The Texas Supreme Court temporarily halted a district court order on Friday that would have allowed a Texas woman carrying a fetus with a fatal condition to obtain an abortion, following a request from state’s Attorney General Ken Paxton.
Kate Cox, 31, a mother of two young children in the Dallas area, is 20 weeks pregnant with a fetus that was diagnosed in late November with trisomy 18, a condition that, as Cox wrote in an op-ed, “cannot sustain life.” Her case is the first instance of a pregnant woman seeking an emergency court-ordered abortion since the overturning of Roe v. Wade in 2022.
The state’s supreme court issued the one-page stay without ruling on the merits of the case, and didn’t say when it would rule definitively on it. The Friday night ruling came in response to a request from the AG, who warned the court that “each hour [the temporary restraining order] remains in place is an hour that Plaintiffs believe themselves free to perform and procure an elective abortion.” Paxton added that “nothing can restore the unborn child’s life that will be lost as a result.”
In addition to the appeal, Paxton wrote a letter to three Houston hospitals, arguing that the district court ruling would not insulate them “from civil and criminal liability for violating Texas’ abortion laws.” Doctors convicted of illegally providing abortions in the Lone Star State can face life in prison and fines of above six figures.
The Center for Reproductive Rights, which is representing Cox, called Paxton’s appeal “stunning in its disregard for Ms. Cox’s life, fertility, and the rule of law.”
“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,” said Molly Duane, senior staff attorney at the center.
In her lawsuit, Cox said that she would have to undergo a third cesarean section if the pregnancy continues, a procedure that would jeopardize her potential for having additional children, which she has said she wants.
“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,” wrote Guerra Gamble, an elected Democrat, in her ruling granting Cox access to the procedure.
On Friday, President Joe Biden’s campaign repeatedly mentioned the actions of the Texas attorney general, a close ally of former president and current GOP frontrunner Donald Trump. “This story is shocking, it’s horrifying, and it’s heartbreaking — it’s also becoming all too commonplace in America because of Donald Trump,” Texas Representative Veronica Escobar, a Biden campaign co-chair, said in a statement. “The American people should know that Donald Trump and MAGA Republicans won’t stop here.”