Kate Cox, who is about 20 weeks into her pregnancy, learned last month that her developing fetus has trisomy 18, a rare chromosomal disorder likely to cause stillbirth or the death of the baby shortly after it is born.
On Monday, The Center for Reproductive Rights filed an emergency lawsuit on her behalf, believed to be the first of its kind since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June 2022, effectively erasing a reproductive right that has been in place for nearly five decades.
Travis County Judge Maya Guerra Gamble ruled Thursday that Cox could terminate the pregnancy, seemingly circumventing the near-total abortion ban implemented in Texas after the Supreme Court’s controversial ruling just more than a year ago.
In a one-page order issued Friday night, the all-Republican State Supreme Court announced it was temporarily blocking the lower court’s decision, saying it is “without regard to the merits.” The case is still pending.
Molly Duane, an attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights, said that while Cox is not yet ready to give up the fight, she is facing a ticking clock.
“While we still hope that the Court ultimately rejects the state’s request and does so quickly, in this case we fear that justice delayed will be justice denied,” she said. “We are talking about urgent medical care. Kate is already 20 weeks pregnant. This is why people should not need to beg for healthcare in a court of law.”
According to the Cox’s emergency lawsuit, she first found out she was pregnant back in August, but her joy was shattered just weeks later, upon learning of the fetus’ condition. Doctors further explained that she too faced great risk. If the baby’s heartbeat were to stop, inducing labor could result in a uterine rupture, they said, citing her past two cesarean section surgeries. Another C-section at full term would also endanger her ability to carry another child, doctors explained.
“An abortion was not something I ever imagined I would want or need,” Cox wrote in a recent essay for the Dallas Morning News.
Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Thursday said Cox does not meet the criteria for a medical exception to the state’s abortion ban, and he called on the state’s highest court to rectify the ruling delivered earlier in the day.
“Future criminal and civil proceedings cannot restore the life that is lost if Plaintiffs or their agents proceed to perform and procure an abortion in violation of Texas law,” Paxton’s office told the court. He added that the temporary restraining order would “not insulate hospitals, doctors, or anyone else, from civil and criminal liability for violating Texas’ abortion laws.”
Just more than 40 abortions have been performed without consequences since Texas implemented its near-total ban, compared to the 16,000 performed in the five months preceding its enactment. In August 2022, performing an unauthorized abortion became a felony in the Lone Star State.
Texas is one of 12 states that have passed restrictive measures since the reversal of Roe v. Wade.
With News Wire Services