Texas Supreme Court Halts Pro-Abortion Order by Lower Court

The Texas Supreme Court has halted a district court’s order that granted a pregnant woman the right to an abortion despite the state’s strict abortion ban.
Texas Supreme Court Halts Pro-Abortion Order by Lower Court
Pro-abortion activists rally at the Texas State Capitol on Sept.11, 2021 in Austin, Texas. (Jordan Vonderhaar/Getty Images)
Tom Ozimek

The Texas Supreme Court has temporarily blocked a pregnant woman from getting an emergency abortion, a lower court decision in a lawsuit by a pregnant woman seeking a court-authorized abortion, with the move blocking her ability to terminate the pregnancy.

The Texas Supreme Court on Friday temporarily halted a lower court’s decision that granted a pregnant woman the ability to get an emergency court-authorized abortion despite the state’s strict rules against getting one.

The high court’s Dec. 9 decision came after a district court a day earlier granted a request for an emergency abortion in a lawsuit brought by Kate Cox, a woman who is 20 weeks pregnant and whose unborn baby was diagnosed with Trisomy 18, a condition that causes multiple structural abnormalities that doctors said gave it no chance of survival after birth.
By an order issued on Dec. 8, the Texas Supreme Court applied an administrative stay—without ruling on the merits of the case—to the temporary restraining order issued by a judge at the District Court of Travis County, Texas, which paused Texas’ strict abortion laws so that Ms. Cox could legally terminate her pregnancy.

In its decision, the high court said that it would consider the matter further and issue a more comprehensive ruling at a later time.

The Texas Supreme Court ruling came in response to a motion filed late Friday by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who sent a letter to three Texas hospitals, warning them that they faced the prospect of legal action if they allowed the abortion to take place at their facility.
“The TRO [temporary restraining order] will expire long before the statute of limitations for violating Texas’ abortion laws expires,” Mr. Paxton said in a statement, while the letter states that the restraining order will not insulate the hospitals from civil and criminal liability.

The Center for Reproductive Rights, the pro-abortion rights group that brought the lawsuit on behalf of Ms. Cox, denounced the decision and accused Mr. Paxton of “playing despicable political games.”

“This fight is not over,” the group said in a post on X. “No one should have to beg a court for permission to receive the medical care their doctors recommend.”

More Details

Ms. Cox was seeking the right to abort her baby after doctors diagnosed it with Trisomy 18 and gave it no chance of survival after birth.

Several doctors also told Ms. Cox that continuing to carry the pregnancy to term could threaten her health and future fertility.

The Center for Reproductive Rights then filed a lawsuit on Ms. Cox’s behalf on Dec. 5, asking the judge to impose a temporary restraining order—and a permanent injunction—against Texas’ strict abortion laws.

Texas’ abortion laws prohibit and criminalize abortions in all cases except when the mother’s life is in danger under a “medical emergency” exception.

In her complaint, Ms. Cox’s attorneys argued that because she had two prior cesarean sections (C-sections), continuing the pregnancy put her at high risk for severe complications threatening her life and future fertility, including hysterectomy and uterine rupture.

Also, they said that Texas’ abortion laws mean that doctors’ “hands are tied,” and Ms. Cox “will have to wait until her baby dies inside her or carry the pregnancy to term, at which point she will be forced to have a third C-section, only to watch her baby suffer until death.”

They argued that an abortion was the safest option for Ms. Cox’s health and her “best medical option given that she wants to have more children in the future.”

Lawyers for the State of Texas argued in court that Ms. Cox’s symptoms did not meet the standard set out for a “medical emergency” and that her doctors made a “subjective” determination that she qualified for an abortion rather than basing their medical opinion on “objective” standards set out in law.

During an emergency hearing on Thursday, Judge Maya Guerra Gamble, a Democrat, agreed with Ms. Cox’s attorneys and granted the temporary restraining order that would have allowed her to get the abortion in Texas.

“The idea that Ms. Cox wants so desperately to be a parent and this law may have her lose that ability is shocking and would be a genuine miscarriage of justice,“ Judge Gamble said from the bench. ”So I will be signing the order, and it will be processed and sent out today.”

The judge also scheduled a Dec. 20, 2024, date for a hearing on Ms. Cox’s request for a permanent injunction against Texas’ abortion laws.
The case is significant as it’s among the first attempts in the country to get a court-authorized abortion after the Roe v. Wade ruling, which gave states the right to impose their own abortion laws.
Tom Ozimek is a senior reporter for The Epoch Times. He has a broad background in journalism, deposit insurance, marketing and communications, and adult education.
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