UPDATE: Woman to leave Texas to get abortion after state Supreme Court blocks ruling

texas abortion A sign welcoming patients from East Texas is displayed in the waiting area of the Women's Reproductive Clinic, which provides legal medication abortion services, in Santa Teresa, New Mexico, on June 15, 2022. | Credit: ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images

A woman who sued Texas state officials so she could obtain an abortion has decided to get an abortion in a different state after the state Supreme Court blocked a lower court ruling that could have granted her an abortion.

“Kate [Cox’s] case has shown the world that abortion bans are dangerous for pregnant people and exceptions don’t work,” Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, which is representing her in the lawsuit, said in a statement.

“She desperately wanted to be able to get care where she lives and recover at home surrounded by family,” 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 Texas Supreme Court intervened in the litigation on Dec. 8 after Travis County District Judge Maya Guerra Gamble issued a temporary order that would have restricted state officials from enforcing Texas abortion laws against hospitals and doctors who would have performed the abortion for the woman. 

Gamble’s Dec. 7 order came amid the preborn child’s diagnosis of trisomy 18. Only about 5%-10% of babies born with this condition will live past their first birthday. Her order also claims the woman’s doctor determined that she could suffer long-term health complications, such as future fertility problems, if she continued the pregnancy.

The Supreme Court’s intervention restored the state’s ability to enforce its laws but did not put an end to the litigation, noting that the ruling is “without regard to the merits” of the case and it allows the case to proceed. The pro-abortion group will continue the litigation “because the issues in this case are capable of repetition,” they said in a Dec. 11 court filing.

The litigation is scheduled for a hearing on Dec. 20 in the Travis County District Court. 

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has accused Gamble of being an “activist judge” and has argued that the ruling failed to show any “reasonable medical judgment and a life-threatening physical condition” and did not meet “the legal standard” for a permissible abortion under Texas law.

State law prohibits abortions in most circumstances, with an exception when the life of the mother is at risk or she could face serious problems with her physical health.

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