A Texas woman who sued for the right to end her nonviable pregnancy has been forced to travel elsewhere for abortion care.
“This past week of legal limbo has been hellish for Kate,” Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, which is representing Kate Cox, said in a Monday statement. “Her health is on the line. She’s been in and out of the emergency room and she couldn’t wait any longer.”
The Center did not detail where Cox went for care, though other states including California have offered her safe haven.
Cox’s has been one of the breakthrough abortion stories in the post-Dobbs era, attracting nationwide media attention as she seeks to end her pregnancy at over 20 weeks due to her fetus’ diagnosis of full Trisomy 18.
Her case has a combination of potent factors. The fetus’ outcome is grim — “her physicians have informed her that her pregnancy is likely to end in a stillbirth or at best, her baby will live for only minutes, hours, or days,” per court filings — and she is at heightened risk for a series of serious complications in the meantime. She has been sent to four emergency rooms in the past month, per a December 8 filing, and carrying the nonviable pregnancy to term will “make it more difficult and dangerous for her to have children in the future.”
It’s a tragic case, the face of which is a married white woman with two children, a demographic more difficult for the anti-abortion right to demonize. And then there’s the staggeringly aggressive levels of Republican state intervention.
A district judge granted her a temporary restraining order (TRO) Thursday, allowing her to get an abortion under the state’s extremely narrow exceptions. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) immediately asked the Supreme Court to intervene and prevent her from getting an abortion, following his request with a letter to the hospital where the doctor involved has admitting privileges.
“The TRO will not insulate you, or anyone else, from civil and criminal liability for violating Texas’ abortion laws, including first degree felony prosecutions, and civil penalties of not less than $100,000 for each violation,” he threatened in a letter posted to social media.
He added that the TRO from an “activist Travis County judge” does not prevent individual citizens or district or county attorneys from suing, and that the TRO will expire before the abortion ban’s statute of limitations does.
Displaying how weak and logistically nonfunctional abortion ban exceptions are, he also went on to argue that Cox’s numerous health risks aren’t life-threatening enough to qualify her for the procedure.
The state Supreme Court, without comment, granted an administrative stay Friday, blocking the lower court’s order. The court, composed completely of Republicans, has not said anything further.
Democratic politicians and advocacy groups alike have made public statements about the case, and it will almost certainly make its way into campaign ads this cycle. Like the infamous case of the raped 10-year-old in Ohio who had to travel out of state for an abortion, it condenses the cruelty, human suffering and no-win situation for health care providers created by abortion bans.
“Kate desperately wanted to be able to get care where she lives and recover at home surrounded by family,” Northup said in her statement. “While Kate had the ability to leave the state, most people do not, and a situation like this could be a death sentence.”