A Texas woman who was pleading the courts for an emergency abortion—and who was personally and repeatedly targeted by Attorney General Ken Paxton—has been forced out of state in order to receive critical care.
Kate Cox has been at the center of a contentious post-Roe ruling, riding out a legal challenge to the state’s near-total abortion ban after learning that her fetus has a fatal genetic condition that could jeopardize her health and future fertility if carried to term. The lawsuit is the first of its kind since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973.
On Thursday, Travis County District Judge Maya Guerra Gamble ruled that Cox should receive a temporary restraining order, allowing the 31-year-old mother of two to pursue an abortion under the ban’s medical emergencies clause. But hours after the ruling, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton asked the state’s Supreme Court to intervene and issued a statement promising to prosecute doctors performing the procedure with felony charges, even if a court permitted the procedure. On Friday night, the state’s Supreme Court blocked the lower court’s order and once again put Cox’s health in jeopardy.
“This past week of legal limbo has been hellish for Kate,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO at the Center for Reproductive Rights. “Her health is on the line. She’s been in and out of emergency rooms, and she couldn’t wait any longer.”
“This is why judges and politicians should not be making health care decisions for pregnant people—they are not doctors. This is the result of the Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade: Women are forced to beg for urgent health care in court,” Northup said. “While Kate had the ability to leave the state, most people do not, and a situation like this could be a death sentence.”
The burgeoning restrictions on the lifesaving operation have fueled a medical brain drain in several states pursuing abortion bans, with large swaths of medical professionals exiting en masse while states struggle to define the parameters and consequences of the bans. The vast majority of Americans do not support such restrictions, with 73 percent of respondents saying they support first-trimester abortions, according to a 2023 AP-NORC poll.
Voters have made their positions on the issue abundantly clear. Since Roe was reversed by the Supreme Court’s conservative supermajority in June 2022, abortion has become a nonstop losing streak for Republicans, turning what was once anticipated to be a red wave in November into a trickle. That has led to a quiet stripping of pro-life policies from conservative platforms across the country, with the party attempting to ditch the “pro-life” branding altogether in an effort to skirt more electoral losses.