The Texas Supreme Court put on hold a lower court decision that would have let a woman get an abortion because of her health. On Monday, lawyers for the Center for Reproductive Rights said the woman had left the state.
Court Judge Maya Guerra Gamble said last week that Kate Cox, a 31-year-old mother of two from Dallas, could end her pregnancy. Official court records say that Cox’s doctors told her that her baby had trisomy 18, a chromosome disorder that usually causes babies to die before they’re due.
It was written in court last week that Cox was 20 weeks pregnant. The group that sued, the Center for Reproductive Rights, said that Cox left the state because she “couldn’t wait any longer” to get the procedure. N. Northup, CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said, “Her health is on the line.” “She’s been in and out of the emergency room, and she couldn’t wait any longer.”
In response to Gamble’s ruling, Ken Paxton, the attorney general of Texas, told a medical center in Texas that if an abortion was done, it would be breaking the law. The Texas Supreme Court then put a temporary hold on Gamble’s decision in an order that wasn’t signed until late Friday night.
After Cox had left the state on Monday, the state Supreme Court lifted the suspension. The court said it was no longer relevant and overturned the lower court’s decision that had approved Cox’s request.
In its decision, the state high court said that Cox’s doctor could decide if her case met the requirements for an exception to the state’s abortion ban. This meant that the doctor could decide if Cox’s pregnancy put her life or a major bodily function at risk.
It found that Cox’s doctor did not have a “good faith belief” about whether Cox’s situation met the legal standard. However, the lower court still let her get an abortion because of an exception. “Judges do not have the authority to expand the statutory exception to reach abortions that do not fall within its text under the guise of interpreting it,” the high court stated in its judgment.
Court documents say that Cox’s doctors told her that early screening and ultrasound tests showed that her pregnancy was “unlikely to end with a healthy baby.” They also said that because she had had two cesarean sections before, continuing the pregnancy put her at risk of “severe complications” that could threaten “her life and future fertility.”
In the lawsuit, it was said that doctors told her they had no choice but to “hold their hands” and wait until the fetus died inside her or take the pregnancy to term, where she would have to have a third C-section “only to watch her baby suffer until death.”
The suit was brought while the state Supreme Court is considering whether the state’s strict abortion ban is too harsh on women who are having serious problems with their pregnancy. Earlier this year, an Austin judge said that women who have extreme complications might not have to follow the ban. However, the decision is currently on hold while the all-Republican Supreme Court considers the state’s appeal. While arguing before the state Supreme Court, the state’s lawyers said that a pregnant woman who gets a fatal fetal diagnosis could file a “lawsuit in that specific circumstance.”