The Texas Supreme Court has temporarily blocked a woman from receiving an abortion after a lower court ruled that she could get the procedure in order to protect her own health.
The late Friday ruling came just hours after Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton asked the state’s Supreme Court to step in and reverse the decision made in favor of 31-year-old Kate Cox, who had sued for the right to terminate a nonviable pregnancy. The strict ban on abortion in the state allows exceptions in cases where the mother is at risk, and Cox’s lawyers cited doctors who said her health and future fertility is in jeopardy.
But Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton launched a crusade following Cox’s legal victory earlier this week, threatening doctors with prosecution if they provide her with an abortion and reportedly sending a letter threatening legal action to three hospitals he believed could perform the procedure.
Paxton’s office, in a filing with the state’s Supreme Court on Friday, stressed the importance of the fetus’ life, despite a fatal diagnosis.
“Each hour it remains in place is an hour that Plaintiffs believe themselves free to perform and procure an elective abortion,” Paxton’s office wrote. “Nothing can restore the unborn child’s life that will be lost as a result.”
Cox’s lawyers said that in the unlikely event her fetus survives long enough, the baby would likely die a painful death within days of birth.
A judge had sided with Cox on Thursday, issuing a temporary restraining order against the enforcement of the ban in this case. “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,” the judge said in explaining her decision, referring to warnings from Cox’s doctors that the doomed pregnancy could affect her future fertility.
The Texas Supreme Court said it was issuing an administrative stay in the case “without regard to the merits” of the arguments put forth on either side to give itself time to review the case and make a decision. The move freezes the lower court ruling allowing Cox to get an abortion and leaves the whole thing in limbo.
Cox had said she hopes to prevent more of “the pain and suffering that has plagued this pregnancy.”
“It is not a matter of if I will have to say goodbye to my baby, but when,” she said in a statement.
“I do not want to put my body through the risks of continuing this pregnancy. I do not want my baby to arrive in this world only to watch her suffer. I need to end my pregnancy now so that I have the best chance for my health and a future pregnancy.”
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