Ken Paxton stops an abortion for a pregnant woman with a fetal abnormality

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.
AP Photo/Eric Gay

  • A Texas woman had to go to court for permission to abort her fetus with a fatal abnormality.
  • Attorney General Ken Paxton threatened to prosecute the woman’s health care team.
  • He appealed the court order, which was set aside, which set Kate Cox’s abortion in motion.

Kate Cox was devastated to learn that her much-desired pregnancy would almost certainly end in death, stillbirth or a short and painful life. Her baby was diagnosed with trisomy 18, a rare fetal abnormality. If carried to term, the pregnancy could threaten Cox’s health and future fertility, her doctors said.

Cox feared that carrying the pregnancy to term would expose her baby to intense suffering and threaten the life she shares with her husband and two young children. So she chose to terminate her pregnancy.

“I don’t want my baby to come into this world only to watch her suffer a heart attack or suffocation,” Cox said, according to the lawsuit she filed. “I desperately want the chance to try for another baby and I want to be able to access medical care now that gives me the best chance for another baby.”

Enter Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who aggressively fights to prevent Cox from obtaining an abortion.

On Thursday, Cox won court approval for an abortion after a Travis County judge issued a temporary restraining order protecting her from Texas’ strict abortion ban. Hours later, Paxton swooped in with a complaint to the Texas Supreme Court and an ominous threat to prosecute any doctor who performed an abortion on Cox.

On Friday, the Texas Supreme Court temporarily stayed a Travis County judge’s order preventing Cox’s doctors from proceeding with the abortion. The Texas Supreme Court has not yet ruled on the case.

The Center for Reproductive Rights, which represents Cox, released a statement saying they hope the Texas Supreme Court will eventually rule in Cox’s favor.

“We are talking about a medical emergency. Kate is now 20 weeks pregnant. That’s why people shouldn’t be asking for health care in court,” said Molly Duane, senior staff attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights.

Paxton, who has faced numerous legal troubles of his own, said in his filing that Cox’s case was an “abortion of choice.”

“Nothing can restore the life of the unborn child that will be lost as a result,” Paxton and others wrote in the filing.

Debbie McNabb, a retired gynecologist based in Texas who has been following the case although she is not related to it, told Business Insider that the fetus was diagnosed with trisomy 18, which has a “high risk of fetal loss and stillbirth.” birth’. according to the National Institutes of Health.

“It’s turning into the same kind of case that we’ve seen many times in Texas, where a woman ruptures her membranes in the second trimester,” McNabb told BI. “When that happens, you know right away what the end result is going to be: she’s either going to get sepsis or she’s going to hemorrhage, and no matter what you do, the fetus won’t survive because the fetus needs to have amniotic fluid for the lungs to mature.” “

Cox’s case is further complicated by her medical history. She delivered both of her children by C-section, according to the Center for Reproductive Rights. She will most likely need a third C-section if she is forced to carry the baby to term, but McNabb said that would be fraught with risks.

“Each pregnancy becomes more dangerous because her uterus has a scar. And not only can the uterus tear, but when you have that uterine scar from a C-section, the placenta can grow into that scar,” McNabb said.

This can lead to a placenta accreta spectrum (PAS) disorder, which the NIH says is “responsible for adverse maternal outcomes at birth” and is the leading cause in Western countries of peripartum hysterectomies—hysterectomies performed at or within 24 hours after birth.

“Any C-section puts her at higher risk for these things,” McNabb, who is pursuing a doctorate in bioethics and health care, told BI. “She has already said she wants a big family. So when it is argued that it puts her life and health at risk, it is. And it’s no use because that baby is going to die.”

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