Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton threatened doctors who perform abortions with felony charges, even if a court says they can conduct the procedure.
A Travis County district judge issued a temporary restraining order Thursday against Texas’s strict abortion laws to allow a woman to terminate her pregnancy. The woman, Dallas resident Kate Cox, and her husband had wanted to have a child, but doctors warned the fetus had a lethal abnormality and would not survive past birth.
Within hours, Attorney General Ken Paxton issued a warning of his own. “The Temporary Restraining Order (“TRO”) granted by the Travis County district judge purporting to allow an abortion to proceed will not insulate hospitals, doctors, or anyone else from civil and criminal liability for violating Texas’ abortion laws,” he said in a statement.
“This includes first degree felony prosecutions.”
Paxton acknowledged that Cox’s OB/GYN, Dr. Damla Karsan, was shielded by the order, the TRO “does not enjoin actions brought by private citizens”—a blatant threat to people who seek or provide abortions.
Cox was 20 weeks pregnant when she found out her fetus had trisomy 18, a condition caused by having an extra chromosome. This abnormality is almost always fatal, either before birth or soon after.
After Roe v. Wade was overturned, abortions were banned in Texas except to save the life of the pregnant person. Since trisomy 18 is only fatal to the fetus, not the patient, Cox’s situation did not qualify for a medically necessary abortion.
She filed a lawsuit Tuesday asking a judge to let her terminate her pregnancy. Thursday’s ruling was the first time in at least 50 years that a judge has intervened to allow an adult to get an abortion.
Paxton’s office can appeal the ruling and ask a higher court to prevent Cox from getting an abortion, but he has not yet done so.
This is not the first time that Texas’s cruel and restrictive laws have caused legal backlash. Over the summer, a group of 15 women sued the state after they were denied abortions. All of the women had wanted to carry their pregnancies to term but needed abortions because their fetuses had fatal anomalies.
One defendant, Samantha Casiano, vomited in court while telling the story of how she was forced to give birth to a baby without parts of the brain and skull. Casiano said she had to watch her child die four hours after being born.