Abortion denied to Kate Cox in Texas as court requires proof of life-threatening situation

Kate Cox, whose fetus had a deadly disease, did not qualify for an abortion in Texas, despite four emergency care trips, heightened vital signs, the possibility of uterine rupture, and the fact that her capacity to have additional children was jeopardized.

The Texas Supreme Court’s rejection of a mother of two’s plea for an exception under the state’s tight ban has shown the high bar that women in many states must clear in order to obtain the procedure: pregnancy difficulties that pose a life-threatening risk to the mother.

“These laws reflect the policy choice that the Legislature has made, and the courts must respect that choice,” the court’s nine Republican justices wrote late Monday in its decision.

Despite her attorneys’ pleas that her health was deteriorating, the state’s Republican attorney general argued for a week that Cox did not fit the requirement for an exception. Cox’s attorney stated hours before the order that she could no longer wait for the procedure and had already left Texas to get an abortion in another state.

Abortion denied to Kate Cox in Texas as court requires proof of life-threatening situation

The judgment infuriated doctors and opponents, who said it demonstrated how, while such bans enable abortions to save a mother’s life, the regulations are ambiguous about how near to death a patient must be to receive the treatment. Since the United States Supreme Court judgment in Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health last year, fourteen states have prohibited abortion at practically all stages of pregnancy.

The outcome in Texas sparked a rebuke from the White House, which slammed Republican abortion views as out of sync. “This should never happen in America, period,” President Joe Biden stated Tuesday.

According to public polling, the majority of adults in the United States want abortion to be legal, at least during the first trimester of pregnancy.

During pregnancy, things “can go from really OK to really bad really quickly,” according to Dr. Clayton Alfonso, an OB-GYN at Duke University. He stated that because there are so many intricacies in medicine, it is often difficult to predict what would result in death.

“Things just don’t fit the strict legal guidelines of black and white,” he remarked.

Texas’ ban is one of the most stringent in the country, and supporters believe it worked as intended this week, despite Cox’s unfortunate circumstances.

On Tuesday, however, there was little reaction from Texas Republicans who supported the state’s ban. The Texas offices. Gov. Greg Abbott, the state’s Republican lieutenant governor, and the House Speaker did not respond to requests for comment.

States with abortion bans in the United States contain measures to enable abortion to save a woman’s life. Other exclusions, such as pregnancies caused by rape or incest, are subject to a patchwork of policies. Abortion is generally permitted in the most restricted states if doctors believe it is essential to safeguard the pregnant woman from irreversible impairment of a key physical function — but not to protect her health in other ways, including mental health.

Texas Right to Life President John Seago, whose organization opposes abortion and has helped pass several of the state’s restrictive legislation, said doctors should “intervene immediately” if a life-threatening condition exists. However, he claimed that Cox’s complaint never established that.

“When we look at this case, it is a very tragic situation of a child that has a negative diagnosis, but in Texas law, we have a very strong position that we are going to give every child in Texas a chance at life,” he added.

Abortion denied to Kate Cox in Texas as court requires proof of life-threatening situation

Every year, over 700 women die in the United States as a result of pregnancy or childbirth difficulties. Doctors are concerned that postponing an abortion will result in a slightly riskier surgery, especially when the pregnancy is farther along. While they emphasize that abortion is safe at all stages of pregnancy, with a 2% complication rate, the operation does involve increasing risks as the pregnancy advances.

Abortion delays, according to doctors and academics, have become more common after Roe v. Wade was overruled. One major cause of delays is the growing need to seek care outside of the state.

This year, some state legislators took steps to clarify their laws. In Texas, for example, a clause was inserted that provides doctors with some legal protection when terminating pregnancies due to premature rupture of membranes or ectopic pregnancies.

Cox learned late last month that the baby she was carrying had trisomy 18, an extra chromosome that meant the baby would likely die in utero or shortly after birth.

Trisomy 18 is connected with an increased risk of gestational diabetes, preterm birth, and cesarean birth, according to Dr. Andrea Henkel, a clinical assistant in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and a complex family Planning subspecialist at Stanford Health Care in Palo Alto, California. She believes that additional cesareans – Cox currently had two children born via cesarean section — are intrinsically riskier, particularly if Cox plans to have more children in the future.

“I think that that’s where I really struggle right now is when legislators get in the way of a patient making the best plan outside of knowing their specific goals and desires,” he said.

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