Texas Supreme Court temporarily blocks woman from emergency abortion

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton speaks ahead of a rally held by former U.S. President Donald Trump, in Robstown, Texas, U.S., October 22, 2022. REUTERS/Go Nakamura/File Photo

(Reuters) -The Texas Supreme Court temporarily blocked a pregnant woman from obtaining an emergency abortion on Friday, shortly after the state’s attorney general requested the block, CNN reported.

The legal battle is a major test case since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the nationwide constitutional right to abortion last year, enabling states like Texas to pass near complete bans.

The Texas court halted a lower court ruling allowing the emergency abortion, responding to a petition from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton earlier in the day.

“Without regard to the merits, the Court administratively stays the district court’s December 7, 2023 order,” CNN quoted the late Friday ruling as saying.

The woman, Kate Cox, 31, of the Dallas-Fort Worth area, sought court authorization for the abortion because her fetus was diagnosed on Nov. 27 with trisomy 18, a genetic abnormality that usually results in miscarriage, stillbirth or death soon after birth.

Cox, who is about 20 weeks pregnant, said in her lawsuit that she would need to undergo her third caesarean section if she continues the pregnancy. That could jeopardize her ability to have more children, which she said she and her husband want.

District Court Judge Maya Guerra Gamble sided with Cox on Thursday, issuing an order that applied only to Cox and does not expand abortion access more broadly.

But Paxton, who had previously warned that any doctors involved in providing the emergency abortion would not be safe from prosecution, asked the state’s highest court to intervene.

“Nothing can restore the unborn child’s life that will be lost as a result,” the filing said.

The state’s abortion ban includes only a narrow exception to save the mother’s life or prevent substantial impairment of a major bodily function. Cox said in her lawsuit that, although her doctors believed abortion was medically necessary for her, they were unwilling to perform one without a court order in the face of potential penalties, including life in prison and loss of their licenses.

“The idea that Ms. Cox wants desperately to be a parent, and this law might actually cause her to lose that ability, is shocking and would be a genuine miscarriage of justice,” Guerra Gamble said on Thursday during a hearing in an Austin courtroom.

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