Kate Cox, a 31-year-old pregnant woman from Dallas, leaves the state as the top court of Texas enforces laws against her abortion. Cox, a mother of two, is more than 20 weeks pregnant, and the fetus has trisomy 18. The child born with this condition has an extremely low chance of survival.
In late November, Kate got to know that her fetus was having Trisomy 18, or Edwards syndrome. At that time, her pregnancy was more than 20 weeks. Trisomy 18, or Edwards syndrome, is a very severe genetic condition associated with abnormalities in many parts of the body. The baby is likely to die before birth or, at most, live a few days. Texas has strict abortion laws. She filed a petition in Texas district court last week regarding the termination of her risky pregnancy.
Cox was also having health issues. With cramping and other concerning symptoms, she had been in and out of the emergency room four times in two weeks. Her doctors were saying that she was at high risk of developing gestational hypertension and diabetes. She also had two children through cesarean sections. Failure to terminate her pregnancy could cause a rupture in her uterus, which could endanger her future fertility and her life.
In 2022, the US Supreme Court turned over the constitutional right to abortion and gave states the right to create their own laws regarding it. After that, the Texas state adopted its laws immediately, banning abortions even in rape or incest. The Texas law permits private citizens to sue anyone who performs or assists an abortion. The doctors, if guilty of handing over abortions, have to face imprisonment for up to 99 years, a $100,000 fine, and the cancellation of their medical license. However, the state laws had some narrow exceptions. It permits abortions when the mother's life is in danger. Physicians have said that, in practice, the wording is ambiguous and imprecise, leaving them open to legal outcomes for exercising their medical judgment.
The Travis County judge, after hearing the arguments of the lawyers on both sides, gave judgment in favor of Cox, permitting the procedure. But the state’s Attorney General, Ken Paxton, quickly appealed to the Texas Supreme Court, and he was also imperiled to prosecute any doctor who performed the abortion. On Monday, Cox left the state for an emergency abortion. Hours later, the Texas Supreme Court issued a ruling that reversed the lower court’s judgment.
In a White House statement, US President Joe Biden said it was outrageous that a woman was forced to leave Texas to seek an emergency abortion. No woman should be forced to go to court or flee her home state merely to receive the health care she needs. But that is exactly what happened in Texas thanks to Republican-elected officials, and it is simply outrageous.
Morris, Joan K., and George M. Savva. "The Risk of Fetal Loss Following a Prenatal Diagnosis of Trisomy 13 or Trisomy 18." American Journal of Medical Genetics, Part A, 146 (2008): 827-832.
(Input from various media sources)