The Texas Supreme Court on Friday night blocked a lower court judge’s decision that would have allowed a pregnant woman whose fetus has a terminal diagnosis to get an abortion despite the Lone Star State’s ban on the procedure.
The order from the all-Republican state Supreme Court came more than 30 hours after 31-year-old Kate Cox received a temporary restraining order from a lower court judge barring the state from enforcing the abortion ban in her case.
The court said in a one-page ruling that it would temporarily suspend Thursday’s ruling “without consideration of the merits.” The order gives the court more time to consider the case.
“While we remain hopeful that the court will ultimately deny the state’s request and do so quickly, in this case we fear justice delayed will result in justice denied,” said Molly Doan, senior staff attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights, which is representing Cox. . “We’re talking about urgent medical care. Kate is already 20 weeks pregnant. That’s why people don’t need to beg for health care in court.”
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Cox’s lawyers said they would not disclose their client’s abortion plans because of safety concerns. Her lawyers indicated in a memorandum filed with the Texas Supreme Court on Friday that she was still pregnant.
The Dallas-area mother of two was 20 weeks pregnant this week when she filed a lawsuit seeking approval for an abortion in Texas in what is believed to be the first such challenge to the state’s abortion ban since Roe v. The US Supreme Court overturned the Wade ruling last year, allowing states to set their own abortion laws.
Thursday’s order applies to Cox but not to any other pregnant woman in Texas.
Cox found out she was pregnant for the third time in August before being told weeks later that her baby was at high risk for a condition known as trisomy 18, which carries a very high chance of miscarriage or stillbirth and low survival rates, according to her. lawsuit.
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Doctors also told Cox that if the baby’s heartbeat stopped, inducing labor would risk rupture of her uterus due to her previous C-section, and that performing another procedure after full-term would jeopardize her ability to carry another child.
Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton argued that Cox does not meet the criteria for a medical exception to the state’s abortion ban, and called on the state Supreme Court to take action.
“Future criminal and civil actions cannot restore the life lost if Plaintiffs or their agents initiated and performed the abortion in violation of Texas law,” Paxton’s office told the court.
Paxton also warned three Houston hospitals that they could face legal consequences if they allowed Cox’s doctor to perform the abortion. This comes despite Thursday’s ruling by state Judge Maya Guerra Gamble, whom Paxton described as an “activist” judge.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.