The Texas Supreme Court has paused a judge's decision that would have allowed a woman to terminate a pregnancy in which her fetus has a fatal diagnosis.
The judge's order in question was issued just days ago and blocked the state from enforcing its strict abortion ban in the case of Kate Cox, a Dallas woman. The justices now say they intend to consider Attorney General Ken Paxton's petition, filed late Thursday night, to reverse the Travis County court's decision.
In his petition, Paxton argued the state would suffer an "irreparable loss" should Cox terminate her pregnancy.
"Because the life of an unborn child is at stake, the Court should require a faithful application of Texas statutes prior to determining that an abortion is permitted," Paxton's request reads.
Kentucky ban Woman sues state over near-total abortion ban
Cox's attorney, Molly Duane, said the temporary hold keeps Cox from accessing urgently needed medical care.
“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,” Duane, senior staff attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a statement Friday night.
Cox was 20 weeks and three days pregnant as of Friday afternoon, according to her attorneys' response to Paxton's appeal. The attorney general's petition could have been deemed moot if Cox had obtained the abortion while the restraining order was still in effect, but that would have depended on interpretation, said Seema Mohapatra, a Southern Methodist University professor of health law.
Paxton's appeal could allow him to test his arguments against the restraining order when the Supreme Court takes up his petition. Those arguments were central to an advisory letter he sent Thursday to three Houston hospitals where Cox’s OB-GYN holds privileges, claiming that the judge's temporary restraining order would not shield the plaintiffs or the hospitals from criminal charges or fines.
Cox's fetus has trisomy 18, a deadly genetic condition. The Dallas-area mother has been admitted to emergency rooms four times in the past month – including one visit since the case was filed – after experiencing severe cramping and fluid leaks, attorney Molly Duane told the court Thursday.
Several doctors have advised Cox that there is "virtually no chance" her baby will survive and that carrying the pregnancy to term would make it less likely that she will be able to carry another child in the future, according to the complaint.
In an interview with "NBC Nightly News" on Thursday, Cox said she was "hopeful" about the court's decision in her favor but that her family will be grieving over their unborn child's fatal diagnosis regardless.
"Even with being hopeful with the decision that came from the hearing (on Thursday), there’s still – we’re going through the loss of a child," Cox said. "There’s no outcome here that I take home my healthy baby girl. So it’s hard."
Contributing: Serena Lin.
This article originally appeared on Austin American-Statesman: Texas Supreme Court blocks Kate Cox's emergency abortion approval