The Texas Supreme Court has issued a temporary stay on a lower court’s decision permitting a 20-week pregnant woman, Kate Cox, to undergo an abortion.
This ruling comes amidst the state’s stringent ban on abortion procedures and is considered a pivotal test case following the US Supreme Court’s overturn of the nationwide constitutional right to abortion last year.
The all-Republican top court’s one-page order, issued late on Friday, intervenes in the case initiated by State District Judge Maya Guerra Gamble, who had granted Cox permission for an abortion due to a fatal diagnosis of trisomy 18 in the fetus. The condition posed high risks of miscarriage or stillbirth, coupled with low survival rates. Cox, a 31-year-old mother of two, filed the lawsuit with the support of the nonprofit Center for Reproductive Rights, marking a notable instance post the Roe v Wade overturn.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, appealed to the Supreme Court to prevent Cox from proceeding with the abortion, emphasizing that she did not meet the criteria for a medical exception to the state’s abortion ban. The Supreme Court’s order, issued “without regard to the merits,” prompted concerns about urgent medical care, with Cox’s legal team arguing against the need to seek healthcare through legal channels.
Cox’s situation, unique to her and this specific pregnancy, drew attention to the broader implications of Texas’s near-complete abortion ban, enacted along with 12 other states following the landmark Supreme Court decision. Despite the lower court ruling only applying to Cox, the legal battle reflects the ongoing clash over reproductive rights in the aftermath of last year’s precedent-setting decision.
The Supreme Court’s intervention and the subsequent uncertainty surrounding Cox’s abortion plans have intensified the debate on access to reproductive healthcare. The case remains pending, with the final verdict awaited as legal arguments unfold.