Texas AG says abortions still prosecutable despite court exemptions

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said any doctor who performs an abortion in Texas will be prosecuted, even if a woman is granted a court exception to the state’s strict abortion ban.

An Austin judge gave a woman an exception to state law on Thursday, allowing her to receive abortion care due to her fetus having a lethal medical condition.

Paxton said Thursday that the ruling “will not insulate hospitals, doctors, or anyone else, from civil and criminal liability for violating Texas’ abortion laws.”

He continued, “The TRO [temporary restraining order] will expire long before the statute of limitations for violating Texas’ abortion laws expires.”

District Judge Maya Guerra Gamble’s order specifically shields Kate Cox from prosecution, alongside her husband and her physician. Cox’s physician argued that carrying the pregnancy to term could seriously risk her health and future fertility.

“The idea that Ms. Cox wants desperately to be a parent and this might cause her to lose that ability is shocking, and would be a genuine miscarriage of justice,” Gamble said in her ruling.

Texas has one of the most strict abortion bans in the country, banning the procedure under most circumstances and enabling the state to prosecute people who assist women in receiving abortion care.

There are medical exceptions to save the life of the mother, but doctors and abortion advocates argue the law is too vague on what constitutes such a risk, so physicians won’t risk providing abortions for fear of potential criminal charges or lawsuits.

Paxton’s office also sent a letter to the three hospitals that Cox’s doctor has admitting privileges in and threatened that any medical staff that assists in an abortion procedure and the hospitals themselves would also face consequences if the procedure went forward.

“Your hospital may be liable for negligently credentialing the physician and failing to exercise appropriate professional judgment, among other potential regulatory and civil violations, if you permit Dr. Karsan to perform an unlawful abortion,” Paxton wrote.

Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) blasted Paxton’s response to the ruling.

“This is Texas AG Ken Paxton saying he’ll throw a woman’s doctors in prison for life if they perform a *court-granted* abortion on a *nonviable* pregnancy that risks causing her permanent infertility and death,” he said.

“Still think the GOP is pro-life?” O’Rourke added.

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