State District Judge Maya Guerra Gamble, an elected Democrat, granted a temporary restraining order allowing Cox to obtain an abortion under what are narrow exceptions to the Texas ban. Her lawyers said they would not reveal what Cox planned to do next, citing security concerns.
Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, whose office argued that Cox does not meet the criteria for a medical exemption, issued a statement that did not say whether the state would appeal. But in a letter to three Houston hospitals, Paxton warned that legal consequences were still possible if Cox’s doctor performed the abortion.
Cox, who is 20 weeks pregnant, attended the hearing via Zoom along with her husband, but did not address the court. Doctors have told Cox that if the baby’s heartbeat stopped, inducing labor would carry a risk of uterine rupture due to her previous C-sections, and that another C-section at term would jeopardize her ability to have another child.
“The idea that Ms. Cox desperately wants to be a mother and that this law could cause her to lose that ability is shocking and would be a true miscarriage of justice,” Gamble said.
The Center for Reproductive Rights, which represents Cox, has said this lawsuit is believed to be the first of its kind since Roe v. Wade was annulled. Since that landmark ruling, Texas and 12 other states have rushed to ban abortion at nearly all stages of pregnancy. Opponents have tried to weaken those bans, including an ongoing challenge in Texas over whether the state law is too restrictive for women with pregnancy complications.
“I do not want to continue the pain and suffering that has plagued this pregnancy or continue to put my body or mental health at the risks of continuing this pregnancy,” Cox wrote in an editorial. published in The Dallas Morning News. “I don’t want my baby to come into this world only to see her suffer.”
The temporary restraining order prevents Texas from enforcing the state’s ban on Cox and lasts for 14 days. Under restrictions in Texas, doctors who perform abortions could face criminal charges that carry a penalty of up to life in prison. They could also receive a fine. Pregnant women cannot be criminally charged for abortions in Texas.
Paxton told Houston hospitals that the order “will not protect” them from civil and criminal liability, arguing that private citizens could still file lawsuits and local prosecutors could still file charges.
Seth Chandler, a law professor at the University of Houston, said that as a doctor, he would be concerned about both the legal issues and Paxton’s “apparent enthusiasm” for enforcing the state’s abortion ban.
“If I were one of the doctors involved here, I would not sleep peacefully performing that abortion,” he said.
Although Texas allows exceptions to the ban, doctors and women have argued that the requirements are so vaguely worded that doctors still won’t risk performing abortions lest they end up facing criminal charges or lawsuits.
State officials had asked Gamble to deny the request, arguing that Cox has not shown that his life is in imminent danger and therefore cannot qualify for an exception to the ban.
The decision was handed down just two days after Cox filed the lawsuit.
Cox found out she was pregnant for the third time in August and weeks later was told her baby was at high risk for a condition known as trisomy 18, which has a very high chance of miscarriage or stillbirth and low survival rates. , according to the lawsuit.
The termination of pregnancies due to fetal abnormalities or other medical problems is often fatal. rarely discussed in national debates on abortion. There are no recent statistics on the frequency of terminations for fetal anomalies in the U.S., but experts say it is a small percentage of total procedures.
The lawsuit was filed a week after the Texas Supreme Court arguments heard on whether the ban is too restrictive for women with pregnancy complications. That case is one of the biggest current challenges to abortion bans in the United States, although the all-Republican court’s ruling may not come for months.