Kate Cox leaves Texas to get her abortion

My heart goes out to her and her family.

After the Texas Supreme Court temporarily put a pregnant woman’s efforts to get an emergency abortion on hold, her lawyers said Monday that she had left Texas to get care in another state.

Kate Cox, the lead plaintiff in Cox v. Texas, initially received a temporary restraining order from a Travis County district judge on Dec. 7 allowing her to have the procedure. But Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton petitioned the state’s Supreme Court to reverse Judge Maya Guerra Gamble’s order later that night, saying she had abused her discretion by issuing it. Paxton also penned a letter threatening liability to any hospital or doctor who facilitates an abortion.

The Supreme Court temporarily halted the order late Friday night, but indicated that it would consider the matter before issuing a final ruling.

“While we still hope that the Court ultimately rejects the state’s request and does so quickly, in this case we fear that justice delayed will be justice denied,” Cox’s attorney Molly Duane said in a statement on Friday, following the Supreme Court’s stay. “We are talking about urgent medical care. Kate is already 20 weeks pregnant.”

Cox’s fetus was diagnosed with trisomy 18, a condition that is almost always fatal. She was warned by doctors that continuing the pregnancy to delivery could have a severe impact on her health and ability to carry future pregnancies.

On Monday, Duane filed a notice with the Texas Supreme Court saying that Cox had left Texas to receive medical care. However, she said they intended to move forward with Cox’s case as the issues included in it are “capable of repetition.”

See here, here, and here for the background. The Trib adds some details.

“This past week of legal limbo has been hellish for Kate,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO for the Center for Reproductive Rights. “Her health is on the line … This is why judges and politicians should not be making healthcare decisions for pregnant people—they are not doctors.”

The Center for Reproductive Rights intends to continue litigating this case before the Texas Supreme Court, according to a letter sent to the court clerk Monday. The Texas Supreme Court also heard arguments in late November in Zurawski v. Texas, in which 20 women allege they were denied medical care for their complicated pregnancies as a result of the state’s abortion laws.

Cox’s lawyers declined to say where she was traveling to terminate her pregnancy, but noted in a statement that many women in Texas do not have the financial means to quickly leave the state. All but one of Texas’ neighboring states have banned the procedure, and Texans are flooding clinics in New Mexico, Colorado and Kansas, leading to delays in care. In October, the Texas Tribune documented the story of a woman who could not afford to leave the state for an abortion, and carried a non-viable pregnancy to term.

I don’t know what it means to pursue this case further – my non-lawyer brain assumed that this would moot the case. I’m happy to be wrong about that, because this deserves a legal resolution. Beyond that, I’m too goddamned angry to think. I’m going to stop here before I say something I regret. The Chron, TPM, Mother Jones, the Associated Press, MSNBC, the Dallas Observer, and the Austin Chronicle have more.

UPDATE: Jesus Christ.

The Texas Supreme Court on Monday overturned a lower court order allowing an abortion for a pregnant woman whose fetus was diagnosed with a fatal condition, hours after her lawyers said she had decided to leave Texas for the procedure in the face of the state’s abortion bans.

The court ruled that the lower court made a mistake in ruling that the woman, Kate Cox, who is more than 20 weeks pregnant, was entitled to a medical exception.

In its seven-page ruling, the Supreme Court found that Ms. Cox’s doctor, Damla Karsan, “asked a court to pre-authorize the abortion yet she could not, or at least did not, attest to the court that Ms. Cox’s condition poses the risks the exception requires.” Texas’ overlapping bans allow for abortions only when a pregnancy seriously threatens the health or life of the woman.

“These laws reflect the policy choice that the Legislature has made, and the courts must respect that choice,” the court wrote.

The ruling, which applied only to Ms. Cox’s current pregnancy, suggested that the court would not be open to readings of the law that would expand the medical exception in Texas beyond all but the most serious cases. The fact that Ms. Cox decided to leave the state rather than wait for a ruling underscored the difficulty of seeking court permission for an abortion in the midst of a pregnancy.


In its decision on Monday, the Texas Supreme Court suggested a general standard that could be applied beyond Ms. Cox’s case.

“The exception does not mandate that a doctor in a true emergency await consultation with other doctors who may not be available,” the court wrote. “The exception is predicated on a doctor’s acting within the zone of reasonable medical judgment, which is what doctors do every day.”

Sorry, but that sounds like the same “it’s totally up to you doctors, but we’re not going to define what the boundaries are and if you guess wrong you can be arrested for murder and also sued by Ken Paxton and every anti-abortion zealot in the state, so good luck with that” bullshit as before. The Chron notes that SCOTx wants the Texas Medical Board to clarify the exceptions, which sounds nice but won’t carry any weight with the Lege or the AG or the wingnuts. The government of the state of Texas as it exists now is never ever going to concede that any specific woman’s situation counts as an actual legal exception to the anti-abortion law. And you know what that means.

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6 Responses to Kate Cox leaves Texas to get her abortion

  1. Flypusher says:

    I commend Ms Cox for taking the risk she did, and I hope the delay does not make a future successful pregnancy impossible for her. But her case removed any doubt that Paxton, SCOTx, and TX pro-life groups are not reasonable people.

    There’s a Lincoln quote about the way to get people to turn against a bad law is to enforce that bad law strictly. I could wish this case would be enough to open people’s eyes, but I suspect that another pregnant woman who develops complications will have to die first. Even then I’ll expect denial and obstruction from these people.

  2. Jeff N. says:


  3. J says:

    Throughout history men have wished for a remedy for disobedient women. The rise of religions and various Gods offered an opportunity for some men in the form of the priesthood, a position of power over others, including females. The situation remains much the same with modern Evangelicals and Catholics, who suborn women. It is from this religious tradition that the current Texas abortion law arises. This law seeks to control disobedient females by specifying severe punishments for those who assist them. It isn’t really about anything else.

  4. J says:

    Not ‘suborn women’. They require women to be submissive.

  5. Flypusher says:

    The fact that women now have options other than marrying for economic support is a seismic shift in human society, and we’ll still be sorting out all the ramifications for many decades to come. Women are still free to enter into the reactionaries’ version of traditional marriage. But that’s not good enough for them, and I suspect, even though they would never admit it, that they know that their preferred option for women doesn’t compete well in a truly free marketplace of ideas. The increased criticism we see/hear over women having the franchise is a warning sign and shouldn’t be dismissed as just crazy talk.

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