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Texas Judge Grants Woman's Request to Have Abortion

Kate Cox is carrying a fetus with a fatal condition
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 6, 2023 2:30 AM CST
Updated Dec 7, 2023 11:52 AM CST
Her Baby Won't Survive. She's Suing to Be Allowed an Abortion
The plaintiffs stand in front of the Texas Supreme Court after oral arguments for Zurawski v. State of Texas were heard, Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023, in Austin, Texas.   (Mikala Compton/Austin American-Statesman via AP)
UPDATE Dec 7, 2023 11:52 AM CST

A judge in Texas has granted permission to a woman whose fetus has a fatal condition to have an abortion despite the state's stringent ban, reports the AP. The ruling by Judge Maya Guerra Gamble applies only to 31-year-old Kate Cox and allows her doctor to perform the procedure without legal consequences, per the New York Times. The state is expected to appeal. This is believed to be the first time since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade that a woman has appealed to a court for an immediate abortion.

Dec 6, 2023 2:30 AM CST

Kate Cox is 20 weeks pregnant, and just found out her unborn baby has a fatal chromosomal condition. But as Cox lives in Texas, she must carry the pregnancy until either the heartbeat stops, at which point doctors would legally be allowed to induce labor, or she reaches term, in which case a cesarean section would need to be performed. Cox's doctors have warned that a C-section puts the 31-year-old's health at risk, due to underlying health conditions and since she's undergone the procedure twice before to deliver her first two children—and they've also warned that Cox would then have to watch her newborn suffer and die, since there's little chance the baby would survive long after birth. For all those reasons, Cox has filed an emergency lawsuit asking a judge to allow her to terminate the non-viable pregnancy, the Guardian reports.

As the Texas Tribune explains, Texas' "heartbeat" abortion ban is "enforced entirely through private lawsuits," so even if a judge grants Cox's request, it's not clear whether her husband and any doctor who were to perform the abortion procedure would be protected from lawsuits should the decision later be overturned on appeal. The ban includes a provision stating people can still be sued for aiding and abetting in abortions even if an injunction was in place at the time, if that injunction is later overturned, but that provision has yet to be tested in court. Cox is also among the 20 women and two OB-GYNs challenging Texas' abortion ban in the Zurawski v. Texas case, which involves women with high-risk pregnancies who were denied abortions, but Cox is the only one still actively seeking an abortion. Cox is the first woman to ask a court to allow an abortion since before Roe v. Wade in 1973. (More Texas stories.)

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