Texas Supreme Court Officially Denies Kate Cox Emergency Abortion After Forcing Her to Travel Out of State

“No one in Texas is taking responsibility for the human suffering abortion bans are causing,” Cox’s attorney said in a new statement.

Texas Supreme Court Officially Denies Kate Cox Emergency Abortion After Forcing Her to Travel Out of State
Kate Cox filed a petition in Texas seeking emergency abortion care for her nonviable pregnancy last week. Photo:Center for Reproductive Rights

In another late night ruling, the Texas Supreme Court officially denied Kate Cox an emergency abortion on Monday evening. This ruling came just hours after Cox and her attorneys shared that she would travel out-of-state for abortion care due to the urgency of her condition. Cox, whose nonviable pregnancy threatens both her life and future fertility, received a temporary restraining order from Texas’ total abortion ban from a lower court on Thursday. But on Friday night, the state Supreme Court temporarily blocked her from receiving care until the court could issue a formal ruling.

In the Monday ruling, the Texas Supreme Court inexplicably argued that Cox’s situation didn’t rise to the level of urgency required to qualify for the abortion ban’s medical emergency exception. “Some difficulties in pregnancy, however, even serious ones, do not pose the heightened risks to the mother the exception encompasses,” the opinion dismissively stated. Cox’s doctor, the opinion argues, failed to “attest to the court” that “Ms. Cox’s condition poses the risks the exception requires.” In other words, it seems the state of Texas doesn’t believe anyone should qualify for the medical emergency exception unless they’re on the brink of death—at which point it might be too late to save them.

In a statement shared with Jezebel, Molly Duane, who represents Cox and serves as a senior staff attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights, argues that the state Supreme Court ruling shows that in practice, no one can get care under the state ban’s narrow, ambiguous exception for medical emergencies. “If Kate can’t get an abortion in Texas, who can? Kate’s case is proof that exceptions don’t work, and it’s dangerous to be pregnant in any state with an abortion ban,” Duane said. “No one in Texas is taking responsibility for the human suffering abortion bans are causing.”

Last week, around 20 weeks into her pregnancy, Cox filed a petition asking a judge to permit her doctor to provide her with abortion care without the threat of a $100,000 fine and life in prison—the penalties for violating Texas’ abortion ban. Per Cox’s lawsuit, her fetus has Trisomy 18, a condition that leaves the fetus with almost no chance of survival and also places Cox at risk of severe health complications, death, and infertility. “I’m trying to do what is best for my baby and myself, but the state of Texas is making us both suffer,” she said in a statement last week.

By Monday afternoon, unable to get abortion care in Texas, she was forced to leave the state. “[Cox] desperately wanted to be able to get care where she lives and recover at home surrounded by family,” Center for Reproductive Rights President Nancy Northrup said in a statement. “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 is still currently considering Zurawski v. Texas, a separate suit filed by the Center on behalf of 20 women who say their lives were threatened by being denied emergency abortions. This suit asks the state to clarify the abortion ban’s medical emergency exception, which—as Cox’s case demonstrates—fails to help women in reality. “We are still awaiting a decision in Zurawski, but in the meantime, doctors still don’t know what the [medical emergency] exception means,” Duane said. “If the highest court in Texas can’t figure out what this law means, I’m not sure how a doctor could. Meanwhile, the lives of Texans hang in the balance.”

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