12.12.2023—Late last night, the Texas Supreme Court ruled against a Texas woman with a lethal pregnancy diagnosis seeking access to an abortion in the state.
“This ruling should enrage every Texan to their core. If Kate can’t get an abortion in Texas, who can? Kate’s case is proof that exceptions don’t work, and it’s dangerous to be pregnant in any state with an abortion ban,” said Molly Duane, senior staff attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights. “No one in Texas is taking responsibility for the human suffering abortion bans are causing: not the courts, not the medical board, and certainly not the Attorney General. It’s despicable that judges and politicians are making healthcare decisions for pregnant people instead of their doctors. We are still awaiting a decision in Zurawski v. Texas, but in the meantime, doctors still don’t know what the exception means, and the Texas Medical Board remains silent. If the highest court in Texas can’t figure out what this law means, I’m not sure how a doctor could. Meanwhile, the lives of Texans hang in the balance.”
Last week, a lower Texas court ruled to allow Kate Cox to access an abortion under the medical exception to the State’s abortion ban, but within hours Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton threatened hospitals with prosecution if they allowed Kate to access abortion care at their facilities and escalated the case to the Texas Supreme Court. The Texas Supreme Court halted the lower court’s order the next day. While waiting for the Texas Supreme Court to rule, Kate Cox was forced to leave Texas to get her critical health care. The Texas Supreme Court issued its opinion ruling against Kate just hours later.
Kate recently received confirmation that her pregnancy has a lethal condition—Trisomy 18—and has no chance of survival. Due to Kate’s medical history, her OB-GYNs warned her that continuing to carry the pregnancy could jeopardize her health and future fertility. However, she was unable to get an abortion in Texas due to the state’s extreme abortion bans.
The Texas Supreme Court recently heard arguments in Zurawski v. State of Texas, a different case filed by the Center on behalf of two OB/GYNs and 20 women who were denied abortions in Texas while experiencing severe and dangerous pregnancy complications. In that case, the Center has asked the Court for clarity on the meaning of the medical exception in the state’s abortion bans so that doctors understand who they can help. Kate’s situation underscores the need for that clarity. A decision in this case is still pending.
*Kate is not available for media interviews, and we are not disclosing her whereabouts.
The Center for Reproductive Rights is dedicated to helping all people access abortion in their communities, including people who are denied care while facing pregnancy complications. If you have been denied care and want to speak to a lawyer about your options, please reach out to [email protected].
The lawsuit was filed by the Center for Reproductive Rights, Morrison & Foerster LLP, and Kaplan Law Firm on behalf of Kate Cox, Justin Cox, and Damla Karsan, M.D.
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