Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has asked the state Supreme Court to intervene and stop a Dallas woman from having an abortion.
Paxton’s office petitioned the high court just before midnight Thursday, after a Travis County district judge granted a temporary restraining order allowing Kate Cox, 31, to terminate her nonviable pregnancy. Paxton also sent a letter to three hospitals, threatening legal action if they allowed the abortion to be performed at their facility.
This is the first time an actively pregnant woman has gone to court to get an abortion since before Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973. A similar case was filed in Kentucky on Friday.
In the petition, Paxton asked the Texas Supreme Court to rule quickly, saying that “each hour [the temporary restraining order] remains in place is an hour that Plaintiffs believe themselves free to perform and procure an elective abortion.”
“Nothing can restore the unborn child’s life that will be lost as a result,” the filing said. “Post hoc enforcement is no substitute, so time is of the essence.”
The Texas Supreme Court is currently also considering a similar case, Zurawski v. Texas, in which 20 women claim they were denied medically necessary abortions for their complicated pregnancies due to the state’s new laws. The state has argued those women do not have standing to sue because, unlike Cox, they are not currently seeking abortions.
In the initial lawsuit, Cox’s attorneys with the Center for Reproductive Rights argued she cannot wait the weeks or months it might take the Texas Supreme Court to rule.
Now, the high court must consider many of the same arguments as those in Zurawski v. Texas, but on a much tighter timeline.
Separately, Cox’s lawyer, Molly Duane, sent a letter to [Travis County District Judge Maya] Guerra Gamble, asking her to bring Paxton in for a hearing on his letter threatening legal action against hospitals that allow Cox to have an abortion.
“The repeated misrepresentations of the Court’s [order], coupled with explicit threats of criminal and civil enforcement and penalties, serve only to cow the hospitals from providing Ms. Cox with the healthcare that she desperately needs,” Duane wrote. “Plaintiffs respectfully request the Court hold a hearing so Defendant Paxton can explain to Your Honor why he should not be sanctioned.”
See here and here for the background. I have no idea what happens next. One possibility is that SCOTx dodges the question completely, declining to act on Paxton’s writ, which would allow Cox to proceed but would (I think) leave her, her husband, her doctor, and anyone else involved in danger of being sued by literally anyone in the state. Whatever does happen, I assume it will happen quickly. Oh, and while it would be delightful for Paxton to be compelled to answer some questions about this in a courtroom, I cannot imagine that happening. He’d simply defy the order if it comes to it, on the belief that no one has the power to touch him. At this point, barring a federal indictment or a guilty verdict in his securities fraud case, I sadly think he’s right about that. By all means, try to convince me I’m wrong. In the meantime, we wait on SCOTx.
UPDATE: And in the time since I drafted this, SCOTx has administratively stayed the district court ruling, pending future action on their part. Which I hope like hell comes pretty damn quickly. What an absolute debacle.