Paxton Asks Texas Supreme Court to Stop Woman from Emergency Abortion

REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton leaves the U.S. Supreme Court following arguments over a challenge to a Texas law that bans abortion after six weeks in Washington, U.S., November 1, 2021.

(Reuters) – Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Friday asked the Texas Supreme Court to halt a lower court ruling that would allow a Texas woman to get an emergency abortion.

The legal battle is a major test case since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned abortion rights last year, enabling states like Texas to pass near complete bans.

The woman, Kate Cox, 31, of the Dallas-Fort Worth area, has sought court authorization for the abortion because her fetus was diagnosed on Nov. 27 with trisomy 18, a genetic abnormality that usually results in miscarriage, stillbirth or death soon after birth.

Cox, who is about 20 weeks pregnant, said in her lawsuit that she would need to undergo her third Caesarian section if she continues the pregnancy. That could jeopardize her ability to have more children, which she said she and her husband wanted.

District Court Judge Maya Guerra Gamble sided with Cox on Thursday, issuing an order that applied only to Cox. The judge’s ruling does not expand abortion access more broadly.

But Paxton, who had previously warned that any doctors involved in providing the emergency abortion would not be safe from prosecution, asked the state’s highest court to intervene.

“Nothing can restore the unborn child’s life that will be lost as a result,” the filing said.

The state’s abortion ban includes only a narrow exception to save the mother’s life or prevent substantial impairment of a major bodily function. Cox said in her lawsuit that, although her doctors believed abortion was medically necessary for her, they were unwilling to perform one without a court order in the face of potential penalties including life in prison and loss of their licenses.

“The idea that Ms. Cox wants desperately to be a parent, and this law might actually cause her to lose that ability, is shocking and would be a genuine miscarriage of justice,” Guerra Gamble said on Thursday during a hearing in an Austin courtroom.