Texas Flip-Flops on a Woman Seeking Abortion for an Unviable Pregnancy

And now, she’s fleeing Texas for abortion care.

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After having her abortion exception snatched away by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and the state supreme court, Kate Cox had to leave the state to get abortion care for her unviable pregnancy. Austen Risolvato/Rewire News Group

After being stuck in the middle of an abortion rights tug-of-war, Texas mother of two Kate Cox has left the state to receive abortion care for her unviable pregnancy. Hours later, the state supreme court overturned a lower-court order that would have allowed her to get an abortion in Texas, dismissing it as moot.

“Kate’s case has shown the world that abortion bans are dangerous for pregnant people, and exceptions don’t work,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, who was handling Cox’s case. “She desperately wanted to be able to get care where she lives and recover at home surrounded by family. While Kate had the ability to leave the state, most people do not, and a situation like this could be a death sentence.”

On December 5, Cox sought a court-approved abortion due to Trisomy 18, a fetal condition with a high likelihood of miscarriage, stillbirth, or death of the infant within the first year. Texas imposes criminal penalties for abortion after cardiac activity is detected.

Cox’s doctors told her that her pregnancy would likely not survive to birth and that if it does, her baby would be stillborn or survive for only minutes, hours, or days, according to the Center for Reproductive Rights complaint filed in state court.

Facing complications and pain, Cox went to three emergency rooms in the last month, where doctors said she had to wait until her baby died inside her or carry the pregnancy to term, which would force her to undergo a third c-section only to watch her baby suffer until death.

Because undergoing a third c-section will affect her fertility and health, Cox sought an injunction against Texas, blocking enforcement of the state’s abortion bans against her. A Texas judge granted her request, issuing a temporary restraining order to allow the abortion.

The judge, Maya Guerra Gamble, agreed with Cox’s lawyers that an abortion was necessary.

“The idea that Ms. Cox wants desperately to be pregnant, and this law might actually cause her to lose that ability, is shocking, and would be a genuine miscarriage of justice,” she said.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has other ideas. He sent a letter to three Houston-area hospitals threatening legal action against anyone involved in the abortion process. (Whether sending such a letter violates the terms of Gamble’s order is an open question.)

Paxton also asked the Texas Supreme Court to intervene, and it did late December 8. Without addressing the merits of the case, the court froze the order pursuant to an administrative stay, blocking Cox from getting the abortion she desperately needs.

Texas special counsel Johnathan Stone argued that Cox doesn’t meet all of the requirements for a medical exception and that an injunction would change the law from a “reasonable medical judgment” standard to a subjective “good faith judgment” standard.

The state of Texas doesn’t want doctors making their own judgments about how to care for their patients. They’d prefer to use a reasonable medical judgment standard and then turn to anti-choice OB-GYNS to establish the standard of reasonableness.

This article was adapted from a thread.