The Texas Supreme Court permanently blocked a judge’s ruling allowing a Texas woman to have an emergency abortion, just hours after her lawyers said she was forced to travel out of state for the procedure.
The court’s seven-page ruling comes days after it temporarily blocked the judge’s decision to let Kate Cox have an abortion.
Earlier in the day, the Center for Reproductive Rights, which filed the lawsuit on Cox’s behalf, shared in a series of tweets that Cox had traveled out of state for the time-sensitive procedure.
“After a week of legal whiplash and threats of prosecution from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, our client Kate Cox has been forced to flee her home state of Texas to get the time-sensitive abortion care needed to protect her health and future fertility,” it said.
Cox, a 31-year-old mother of two, filed her lawsuit last week while 20 weeks pregnant after her doctor informed her that her fetus was unlikely to make it to term or survive long outside the womb. The pregnancy would also risk her life and ability to carry future children, doctors warned her.
“This past week of legal limbo has been hellish for Kate,” Nancy Northup, the center’s CEO and president, said in a statement. “Her health is on the line. She’s been in and out of the emergency room and she couldn’t wait any longer. This is why judges and politicians should not be making healthcare decisions for pregnant people.”
Texas state Attorney General Ken Paxton issued warnings to hospitals in Houston that they could face legal repercussions if they provided Kate Cox’s abortion.
Cox’s lawsuit is believed to be the first of its kind since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last year, allowing Texas and several other states to severely crack down on access to abortion.
A judge ruled in her favor last week, giving her a narrow window to undergo the procedure, but Paxton stepped in days later and urged the state’s Supreme Court to intervene, saying the ruling was from an “activist” judge. He also issued warnings to hospitals in Houston that they could face legal repercussions if they provided Cox’s abortion.
After temporarily blocking the lower court ruling last week, the Texas Supreme Court moved to overturn the decision Monday. In the decision, the court wrote that Cox’s doctor “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.”
Cox’s lawsuit noted that her doctor said her pregnancy could result in a uterine rupture, which can lead to death.
Northup noted that while Cox was able to leave the state, many patients don’t have that option.
“Kate desperately wanted to be able to get care where she lives and recover at home surrounded by family. While Kate had the ability to leave the state, most people do not, and a situation like this could be a death sentence,” she said Monday.
Patients who can’t afford the expenses of going out-of-state for abortions ― including transportation, lodging, child care and numerous other costs ― typically rely on networks of abortion funds for assistance.
And abortion providers in states where the procedure remains legal are overwhelmed by the influx of out-of-state patients.
“It’s terrible. We’re at a 50% increase just in the year,” Adrienne Mansaneres, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains told HuffPost in June on the one-year anniversary of Roe falling.
“The abortion infrastructure was already so fragile,” Dr. Colleen McNicholas, the chief medical officer for Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri, told HuffPost at the time, “and it continues to really be stressed with fewer and fewer clinics available.”
This story has been updated throughout.