Austin, Texas – Texas has one of the strictest abortion laws in the country that will be challenged in court on Thursday. Kate Cox, a 31-year-old mother of two from Dallas, filed a lawsuit in this unprecedented case, seeking an emergency court order for an abortion due to the fatal diagnosis of her fetus. The court case in question is getting a lot of attention because it seems to be the first of its kind since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last year.
Texas, along with 12 other states, enacted laws banning abortion at nearly all stages of pregnancy following the landmark Supreme Court ruling. These bans have faced challenges, especially concerning their restrictiveness for women with pregnancy complications, but it is the first time a woman had gone to court seeking an emergency abortion order.
Doctors have informed Cox, who is 20 weeks pregnant, that her baby is most likely to be stillborn or live for only a week after birth. She has shared her ordeal in an editorial in The Dallas Morning News. According to her, she decided to take this step in order to avoid further physical and mental health risks and the potential suffering of her baby.
Cox’s situation is further complicated by her medical history as she had cesarean sections in her previous pregnancies. A week after learning she was pregnant for the third time, doctors informed her the baby was at high risk for trisomy 18. Doctors have indicated that if her baby’s heartbeat stops, inducing labor could risk uterine rupture due to her prior C-sections, and another full-term C-section could impact her ability to have more children.
This case echoes the experiences of several Texas women who testified in July about the difficulties of carrying nonviable pregnancies under the current law. One judge had ruled that the state’s ban was too restrictive for women with pregnancy complications, but that decision was quickly suspended after an appeal by the state.
On the other hand, since the ban, more than 40 women have been able to get abortions in Texas, and no one has been charged with a crime. The major impact of the law is clear from the fact that these numbers don’t match up with the over 16,000 abortions that happened in the state in the five months before the ban.