The Texas Supreme Court enjoined a decision by a lower court on Friday that would have permitted a woman to abort a pregnancy in violation of state law, according to court documents.
Kate Cox, a 31-year-old woman and mother of two children, sought and obtained a temporary injunction against the State of Texas for the enforcement of the Texas Heartbeat Act against her, with the law banning abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, which is usually at six weeks. The state Supreme Court stayed the temporary injunction on Friday pending a review of the merits of the case, according to the order. (RELATED: Planned Parenthood Gearing Up To Make Ohio A Haven For Out-Of-State Abortion Seekers)
“Without regard to the merits, the Court administratively stays the district court’s December 7, 2023 order,” the one-page order reads. “The petition for mandamus and motion for temporary relief remain pending before the Court.”
Cox, who is 20 weeks pregnant, had sought to obtain an abortion due to health complications, according to the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR), which filed the case on Cox’s behalf. Cox’s “pregnancy had Trisomy 18—a condition causing multiple structural abnormalities—and had no chance of survival,” according to CRR, and “continuing to carry the pregnancy to term could jeopardize her health and future fertility.”
“Cox has already undergone two C-sections. If she was forced to stay pregnant, she would likely need a third, placing her at high risk for multiple serious medical conditions such as uterine rupture and hysterectomy,” CRR noted. “She and her husband wish to have more children, and undergoing another C-section to deliver this pregnancy would lessen the likelihood that she’d be able to safely have more children in the future.”
In the temporary injunction, Democratic Presiding Judge Maya Guerra Gamble of the District Court of Travis County, who was elected to her office, ruled that Cox’s “life, health, and fertility are currently at serious risk and she needs a dilation and evacuation (“D&E”) abortion immediately … The longer Ms. Cox stays pregnant, the greater the risks to her life.”
Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton of Texas, who is named as a defendant in the case, issued a press release on Thursday warning physicians that, were they to perform the abortion, they would risk both “civil and criminal liability,” including fines of up to $100,000 and first-degree felony prosecutions. His office also sent a letter to Houston-area hospitals where Karson works to warn them of such penalties if the abortion occurred at their facilities.
The Texas Supreme Court is currently considering another case, Zurawski v. State of Texas, regarding the scope of medical emergency exceptions to the state’s ban on abortions. The case was submitted to the court after oral arguments on Nov. 28, and a ruling is pending.
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