Texas abortion ruling: Judge grants woman’s request for abortion under state medical emergency exception



CNN

A pregnant woman who sued the state seeking a court-ordered abortion can legally terminate her pregnancy, a Texas judge ruled Thursday.

The decision marks a significant development in the debate over the state’s medical exemption to the controversial ban on abortion after six weeks — Strictly one of the nation.

Kate Cox, who is 20 weeks pregnant, filed a lawsuit this week in a state district court in Austin asking her to temporarily block the state’s abortion ban because she can’t get the procedure because of concerns it would violate the law. Cox’s baby was diagnosed with trisomy 18 and wasn’t expected to live more than a few days outside the womb, the suit says.

After the verdict, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton warned Cox’s doctor that he could face civil and criminal penalties at some point, according to the court order.

The Supreme Court ruled last year in Roe v. Cox’s case is believed to be one of the first attempts in the country by an individual to seek a court-ordered abortion since Wade was overturned. The New York Times.

Cox, 31, has been to three different emergency rooms in the past month because of severe muscle cramps and an unrecognizable fluid leak, according to her lawsuit. She had previously had two cesarean sections — C-sections — and, “Continuing the pregnancy puts her at high risk for serious complications that threaten her life and future fertility, including uterine rupture and hysterectomy.”

In an emergency hearing Thursday, a judge granted a temporary restraining order against the state that would have allowed Cox to have an immediate abortion.

“Mrs. Cox desperately wants to be a parent, and the fact that this law could deprive her of that ability is shocking and a true miscarriage of justice,” Judge Maya Guerra Gamble said. “So I will sign the order and it will be processed and shipped today.”

Cox and her husband attended the hearing – which took place via Zoom – and could be seen wiping away tears after hearing the judge’s decision.

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Molly Duane, Cox’s attorney, said they were working to figure out “the quickest way to get her abortion treatment,” but could not release when for the safety of her client, her family and the doctor.

Because the ruling applies only to Cox and does not “restore access” to abortion for thousands of other women, Duane said the fight is far from over. He called the state’s argument “bad in the extreme” and said “they don’t care whether people live or die as long as they are forced to be born”.

Mark Herron, a lawyer at the Center for Reproductive Rights, added: “This cannot be the new normal. I don’t think you can expect hundreds of cases to be filed on behalf of patients. This is not realistic.

Paxton, in a letter threatening future legal action, wrote that Cox failed to prove she had a “life-threatening” medical condition related to her pregnancy or that her symptoms posed a “risk of death” or great bodily harm to her.

According to the Texas Medical Board, the letter was sent to three hospitals in Houston that have privileges for Cox’s doctor. It was released to the media by Paxton’s office. CNN has reached out to the hospitals for a response.

The state attorney general warned hospitals that Thursday’s ruling “does not insulate you or anyone else from civil and criminal liability.”

And Paxton wrote that the ruling would not prevent a civil action by private citizens — a controversial Texas law that would allow lawsuits against abortion providers — Senate Bill 8.

A group of 20 women and 2 doctors are fighting the government in separate cases

A lawyer representing Texas argued Thursday that Cox’s pregnancy symptoms did not meet the standard set by the state for a medical emergency to allow for an abortion.

Jonathan Stone, special counsel for the state attorney general’s office, said Cox’s doctor formed a “subjective” belief that Cox’s doctor was qualified to perform the abortion, based on medical opinion based on “objective” standards set forth in the statute.

The debate over subjective and objective medical reasons for abortion is central to the current debate and legal battles over the state exemption clause. Critics argue that the provision is vague and ambiguous — doctors who face a felony for performing an illegal abortion avoid taking action. The government maintains that the language in the statute is sufficient and clear.

Duane argued that the state second-guessed his client’s doctors and that Cox was not sick enough. Duane works for the Center for Reproductive Rights, which is fighting a separate court battle against the state seeking clarification on the state’s medical emergency exemption.

“Once again they have moved the goalposts. A patient is now going to die before a doctor believes in an exception,” he said of the state, calling the situation “horrific and dangerous”.

CNN has reached out to the state attorney general’s office for comment.

Trisomy 18, sometimes called Edwards syndrome, is a chromosomal condition that can cause heart defects and other organ abnormalities. In half of the cases, the fetus dies before birth. Many babies born with it die within days, and more than 90% die within a year.

Attorneys for the state argued that Cox’s condition — as outlined in court filings — was not severe enough to meet the state’s medical exemption standard, and that if he granted the temporary restraining order, the judge would essentially be changing the law.

Cox’s obstetrician, Dr. Damla Curzon had previously said she had “good faith” that Cox would fall under a statutory exception to the abortion ban, but that she could not provide an abortion without a court order because she could “lose her medical license, life imprisonment, and massive civil fines.” If.

The state allows abortions after six weeks if a woman experiences a “medical emergency,” which is defined in the law as “a life-threatening physical condition caused by or caused by an aggravating pregnancy certified by a physician.” , if the abortion is not performed, the woman is at risk of death or substantial impairment of a major physical function.”

A group of 20 women and two doctors filed a separate lawsuit against the state this year over the medical exemption, saying the language in the law is unclear and the lack of clarity prevents doctors from performing abortions. Law.

Before the Texas Supreme Court last week, a lawyer for the state’s attorney general’s office argued that the law is clear and that if women with life-threatening medical problems don’t get abortions, it should be considered medical negligence.

Despite three trips to the emergency room with severe cramping, Cox said the law is too vague to make clear whether an abortion is legal under those circumstances.

“I don’t want to go through the pain and suffering of this pregnancy. I don’t want to put my body through the risks of continuing this pregnancy,” Cox said in a statement released by the Center for Reproductive Rights, which filed the lawsuit in Travis County.

Cox wrote in an op-ed for the Dallas Morning News that her unborn baby girl had been diagnosed with full trisomy 18.

“I am trying to do what is best for my baby daughter, myself and my family, but we are suffering because of the laws in Texas,” Cox wrote. “I don’t want my child to come into this world, only to see her suffer.”

“I need to end my pregnancy now so I have the best chance for my health, raising my children and future pregnancies,” she added.

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