An American woman forced to leave Texas to have an emergency abortion

The Supreme Court of Texas on Monday, December 11, overturned a decision authorizing an American woman with a very risky pregnancy to have an abortion, a few hours after the announcement by her lawyers that she had been "forced" to leave this very conservative state to obtain the Emergency abortion that she requested

An American woman forced to leave Texas to have an emergency abortion

The Supreme Court of Texas on Monday, December 11, overturned a decision authorizing an American woman with a very risky pregnancy to have an abortion, a few hours after the announcement by her lawyers that she had been "forced" to leave this very conservative state to obtain the Emergency abortion that she requested. About 21 weeks pregnant, Kate Cox, 31, recently had confirmation that her fetus had trisomy 18, a chromosomal abnormality associated with serious malformations. He is at risk of dying in utero and, even if the pregnancy goes to term, the probability that the baby will be stillborn or die a few days later is high. According to her doctor, this pregnancy further threatens Ms. Cox's health and fertility, but she was refused an abortion due to anti-abortion laws in Texas, with her doctors telling her that her "hands are tied" according to her complaint.

The young woman, who has two children, therefore launched legal action to be able to have an abortion in her state. A judge granted his request last week, but Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton appealed to the state's Supreme Court. The high court suspended then overturned the judge's decision, once again passing the buck to the medical profession. “Our decision today does not prevent an emergency abortion in this specific case if a physician believes that such a procedure is necessary in accordance with the law, using reasonable medical judgment,” ruled the court. court. “If Ms. Cox’s circumstances are, or become, those that fit the legal exception, no court order is necessary,” the institution continued. “The Texas Board of Physicians must nevertheless provide further guidance to address the current confusion,” the judges said.

This case illustrates the puzzle that patients and doctors have faced since the Supreme Court annulled the federal guarantee of the right to abortion in June 2022. Since then, several American states have restricted or even banned abortions.

Kate Cox's lawyers announced a few hours before the court's declaration that their client had to leave Texas to have an abortion. “Due to the continued deterioration of Ms. Cox's health (...), she is now forced to seek treatment outside of Texas,” they said in a court document. “This week of legal uncertainty has been hell for Kate,” said Cox, Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, the organization that filed the complaint on her behalf, said in a statement. "Her health is at stake. She was in and out of the emergency room and she couldn't wait any longer." The Center for Reproductive Rights would not say where Ms. Cox had her abortion. She received offers of help “from Kansas to Colorado to Canada,” according to the organization.

“This is crazy,” responded Ohio Democrat Greg Landsman on X. “People are going to die because of these extremist abortion bans,” he warned.

Doctors threatened with prosecution

Texas prohibits all abortions, including in cases of incest or rape. The only exception: in the event of danger of death or risk of serious disability for the mother. But abortion rights advocates say the exceptions are too vague and doctors are terrified of being sued if they perform an abortion. In Texas, doctors face up to 99 years in prison, a $100,000 fine and the revocation of their medical license if they perform an abortion outside the framework defined by law.

When the judge ruled in favor of Ms. Cox, Attorney General Ken Paxton, an ultraconservative Republican, sent a letter to three hospitals, warning them that his decision would not protect them, “nor any other person, from be held civilly and criminally liable for violations of Texas abortion laws.”

According to the Center for Reproductive Rights, this is the first time since 1973 that a pregnant woman has asked a court to be able to have an emergency abortion.

Since the repeal of the constitutional guarantee of abortion, many American women have been forced to undertake painful and expensive trips to obtain an abortion. On Friday, a woman who was eight weeks pregnant and wanting to have an abortion launched a lawsuit to challenge the ban on abortion in her state, Kentucky.