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Abortion rights supporters demonstrate on April 15, 2023 in Los Angeles, California.

(Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

After Court Fight, Kate Cox Flees Texas for Abortion

"Her health is on the line. She's been in and out of the emergency room and she couldn't wait any longer," said Nancy Northup at the Center for Reproductive Rights.

After the Texas Supreme Court blocked a judge's order enabling Kate Cox to terminate a pregnancy due to the fetus having a fatal condition, the 31-year-old Dallas resident has fled the state for abortion care, her lawyers announced Monday.

"This past week of legal limbo has been hellish for Kate," said Nancy Northup, president and CEO at the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR), which filed the case for Cox last week. "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—they are not doctors."

"This is the result of the Supreme Court's reversal of Roe v. Wade: Women are forced to beg for urgent healthcare in court," Northup added. "Kate's case has shown the world that abortion bans are dangerous for pregnant people, and exceptions don't work. She 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."

CRR is not disclosing where Cox is going for care. The mother of two is about 20 weeks pregnant with a fetus that has trisomy 18, a chromosomal abnormality that could result in a miscarriage, stillbirth, or the death of her child in the hours or days after birth. Her doctors warned that continuing the pregnancy would threaten her future fertility.

The Texas Supreme Court's Friday decision blocking the judge's order was only temporary. The Monday announcement from CRR came as Cox was still awaiting a permanent decision, which could have been appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Cox's case has garnered attention across Texas and the United States. Former Democratic Texas Sen. Wendy Davis took aim at the state's Republican attorney general, governor, and lieutenant governor, saying Monday that "my heart breaks for Kate Cox and her family as they endure the emotional and physical stress of this journey—one created by the cruel and inhumane policies of politicians like Ken Paxton, Greg Abbott, and Dan Patrick."

Along with thanking CRR for its "incredible work on the judicial front" fighting "for people like Kate Cox," Davis—who made national headlines a decade ago for her hourslong filibuster of anti-choice legislation—declared that "to turn things around, we must confront these injustices at both the ballot box and in the courtroom."

Congresswoman Katherine Clark (D-Mass.), the House minority whip, said on social media that "Kate Cox is bravely sharing her pain with the world while Republican extremist Ken Paxton threatens to throw her doctors in jail if they provide her abortion care. This is the GOP's post-Roe America. It's cruel. It's inhumane. And we have to stop them."

As the Houston Chroniclereported on Cox's decision to leave the state:

The development likely marks the end of the litigation, as the abortion in question is now a moot issue, said Joanna Grossman, a law professor at Southern Methodist University. Yet, the case could inspire other women with dangerous pregnancies to file similar suits, she said.

Cox is believed to be the first in the country to sue for permission to get an abortion since the fall of Roe v. Wade and Texas' implementation of a near-total abortion ban.

"It kind of gives a blueprint for other plaintiffs who are in similar situations," Grossman said. "I expect we'll see more of these cases, both in Texas and in other banned states.

The newspaper noted that "the Texas Supreme Court is still weighing a larger case brought by 22 women who, like Cox, faced dangerous pregnancy complications and were denied abortions because the emergency exception to the state's ban was so vague their doctors feared legal consequences."

Since the Supreme Court overturned Roe in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organizationlast year, over a dozen states have banned abortion with very limited exceptions—forcing nearly 1 in 5 patients to travel out of state to obtain abortion care in the first half of this year, according to research released Friday by the Guttmacher Institute.

"We knew that more people have been traveling across state lines for abortion since the end of Roe, but these findings are stunning nonetheless, and powerfully illustrate just how disruptive the overturning of Roe has been for tens of thousands of abortion patients," said institute data scientist and project lead Isaac Maddow-Zimet.

Kelly Baden, Guttmacher's vice president for public policy, stressed that "policies that protect and expand access, such as those that permit any qualified healthcare provider—not just physicians—to offer abortion care or shield laws that protect providers from criminal investigation from hostile states, have been critical in helping states meet patients' needs."

"We must also acknowledge the role that abortion funds and other support networks have played in helping people overcome the numerous financial and logistical barriers that traveling for abortion care entails," Baden added. "However, nothing can substitute for sound public policy that recognizes abortion as a critical, necessary component of basic healthcare that everyone deserves, regardless of where they live."

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