Texas Supreme Court rules woman at center of abortion fight

Dallas-area woman Kate Cox has left the state to receive abortion care after a week of legal whiplash after she petitioned a Texas judge for an abortion.

The Texas Supreme Court late Friday temporarily blocked a lower court ruling that would have allowed Cox to have an abortion under the state’s near-total abortion ban, and reversed the lower court’s ruling late Monday night.

Cox, a 31-year-old mother of two, sought an abortion after learning her fetus had a fatal genetic disorder and that carrying the pregnancy to term could jeopardize her future fertility. The case was the first in which a pregnant woman applied to the court to terminate her pregnancy based on the abortion ban. Roe v. Wade Decided in 1973.

Travis County District Judge Maya Guerra Gamble issued a temporary restraining order on December 7, allowing Kate Cox’s doctor to perform abortions in Texas . (Video: AP)

Cox’s lawsuit is widely seen as a test case for other abortion lawsuits across the country.Since the Supreme Court overturned the ban, advocacy groups have tried a variety of different approaches to overturn it in whole or in part or temporarily block it. roe June 2022. Recently, some cases have focused on women directly affected by the law, rather than abortion clinics or doctors.

The Center for Reproductive Rights, the group representing Cox in the case, said earlier Monday that she could no longer wait for abortion care.

Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said the past week’s legal woes have been a hellish experience for Kate. Her health was in danger. She was in and out of the emergency room and she couldn’t wait any longer.

Travis County District Judge Maya Guerra Gamble, an elected Democrat, issued a temporary restraining order Thursday allowing Cox to have an abortion under a limited exception to the state ban, which allows for abortions in medical emergencies. Abortion. But Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) asked the Texas Supreme Court to intervene to prevent Cox from having an abortion.

Four women take witness stand to describe harm done to them by Texas abortion law

Separately, Paxton threatened legal action in a letter Thursday if Cox performed an abortion in the state, warning doctors and hospitals that anyone involved in performing abortions on Cox would There will be civil and criminal liability, which may include first-degree felony prosecution. He argued that Cox’s case did not meet all the necessary elements for an exception to Texas abortion law and that the judge was not medically qualified to make the decision.

The case attracted national attention after Cox described in an op-ed in the Dallas Morning News how she decided to seek an abortion after learning her fetus had Trisomy 18. Nearly all such pregnancies end in miscarriage or stillbirth, according to the agency. Cleveland Clinic. Babies who survive often die prematurely.

I just didn’t think I’d be in the situation I’m in now. I was twenty weeks pregnant and the fetus was not viable, potentially jeopardizing my health and future pregnancies, Cox wrote.

She also explained why she sought legal permission to perform the procedure in Texas.

I’m a Texan. Why do I or any other woman have to drive or fly hundreds of miles to do what we think is best for ourselves and our families to determine our own future? Cox said.

According to the original complaint, Cox went to the emergency room at least three times during her pregnancy, experiencing severe cramping, diarrhea and leaking unidentifiable fluid. The indictment states that Cox has had two previous C-sections and may need a third if she carries her pregnancy to term, a procedure that doctors say could affect her ability to have more children in the future. .

The state Supreme Court held that this circumstance alone was not enough to warrant an exception.

The Texas Supreme Court wrote that any parent would be shocked to learn that their unborn child has been diagnosed with trisomy 18. However, some difficulties during pregnancy, even severe ones, do not pose a greater risk to the mother.

The risk to Cox was highlighted in an amicus brief filed with the court on Monday by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the leading professional association for obstetrics and gynecology.

As well as this devastating diagnosis, Ms Cox faced other risk factors, the organization said. If Ms. Cox was forced to carry her pregnancy to term, her risk factors would be heightened again.

Countries where abortion is legal, prohibited or threatened

Doctors and hospitals across the country are closely watching Cox’s legal battle unfold.

In Thursday’s letter, Paxton issued his clearest and most credible threat yet to hospitals and doctors following the U.S. Supreme Court ruling. No medical professionals have yet been prosecuted under the new abortion ban, despite concerns about what might happen if they provided abortions that were later deemed illegal.

In Texas, doctors who perform abortions can be sentenced to life in prison.

“This is the most direct confrontation we’ve ever seen,” said Mary Ziegler, a UC Davis law professor who specializes in reproductive politics. There is an interest in prosecuting people in the broader abortion support network, but not doctors.

Ziegler added that the Texas Attorney General’s Office may be eager to prevent Cox’s case from becoming a blueprint for future litigation across the country.

Just days after Cox filed her lawsuit, a second pregnant woman filed a lawsuit challenging Kentucky’s abortion ban. A class-action lawsuit filed Friday could have broader implications for abortion access across the state. The unidentified pregnant woman not only called for abortion but also sought to repeal the ban entirely.

Cox’s lawsuit is not related to a separate, broader case in the state, Zulawski v. Texas, in which a group of women who experienced pregnancy complications sued the state over its abortion ban. The women claim state laws deny them proper health care and put their lives at risk. The Texas Supreme Court held a hearing on the matter last month.

Pradnya Joshi contributed to this report.

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