North Texas woman asks judge to let her terminate pregnancy after lethal fetal diagnosis

This story originally appeared in the Texas Tribune.

A Texas woman has filed an emergency lawsuit, asking a Travis County judge to allow her to terminate her pregnancy.

This is the first lawsuit of its kind since the state banned almost all abortions after the overturn of Roe v. Wade in 2022.

Kate Cox, a 31-year-old Dallas woman, learned last week that her fetus was diagnosed with full trisomy 18, a chromosomal anomaly that is almost always fatal before or soon after birth. The fetus is developing with an umbilical hernia, a twisted spine, a club foot and an irregular skull and heart, according to the lawsuit.

Cox, who already has two children, both delivered by Cesarean section, also has elevated glucose and underlying health conditions. The lawsuit alleges she is at increased risk of gestational hypertension and diabetes and complications from anesthesia and cesarean section, if she were to carry the pregnancy to term.

“Ms. Cox’s physicians also explained that a C-section at full term would make subsequent pregnancies higher risk and make it less likely she would be able to carry a third child in the future,” the lawsuit says.

The Texas Supreme Court is currently considering a case that asks whether the state’s abortion bans apply to women carrying non-viable pregnancies like Cox’s. A Travis County judge previously ruled that the laws should not apply in those cases, but the Texas Office of the Attorney General appealed that ruling, putting it on hold.

The lawsuit says that Cox cannot wait for the Supreme Court to rule. The Center for Reproductive Rights, which also filed the lawsuit before the high court, is asking the judge to grant a temporary restraining order, prohibiting enforcement of Texas’ abortion bans against Cox and her husband, as well as Dr. Damla Karsan, an OB/GYN who has agreed to perform the abortion, and her employees.

“I’m trying to do what is best for my baby and myself, but the state of Texas is making us both suffer,” Cox said in a press release. “I need to end my pregnancy now so that I have the best chance for my health and a future pregnancy.”

The Office of the Attorney General did not immediately respond to request for comment.

The Texas Tribune is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.