Dallas, Texas – December 9, 2023
In a recent development, the Texas Supreme Court has intervened to pause a lower court’s decision allowing a temporary block on the enforcement of the state’s stringent abortion ban in the case of Kate Cox, a Dallas mother of two. Cox seeks to terminate her pregnancy due to a fatal diagnosis for her fetus.
Less than 48 hours after the lower court’s order, the Supreme Court issued an administrative stay, temporarily putting the judge’s decision on hold pending further review. The justices have expressed their intention to evaluate a petition filed by Attorney General Ken Paxton late Thursday night, aiming to overturn the Travis County court’s decision.
Paxton argued in his petition that the state would suffer an “irreparable loss” if Cox proceeded with terminating her pregnancy, emphasizing the need for a faithful application of Texas statutes in such cases.
Cox’s attorney, Molly Duane, raised concerns about the temporary hold, asserting that it prevents Cox from accessing urgently needed medical care. In a statement on Friday night, Duane, who serves as a senior staff attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights, expressed the fear that delayed justice might result in justice being denied.
As of Friday afternoon, Cox was 20 weeks and three days pregnant, according to her attorneys’ response to Paxton’s appeal. The potential mootness of Paxton’s petition hinged on whether Cox could obtain the abortion while the restraining order was still in effect, a factor subject to interpretation, as noted by “Seema Mohapatra, a professor of health law at Southern Methodist University.”
Paxton’s appeal not only challenges the restraining order but also allows him to test his arguments against it when the Supreme Court reviews his petition. These arguments were central to an advisory letter sent by Paxton to three Houston hospitals where Cox’s OB-GYN practices, asserting that the temporary restraining order would not shield the plaintiffs or the hospitals from criminal charges or fines.
Cox’s fetus has been diagnosed with trisomy 18, a lethal genetic condition. According to Cox’s complaint, multiple doctors have informed her that the chances of her baby surviving are “virtually no chance.” Additionally, carrying the pregnancy to term would diminish her likelihood of carrying another child in the future.
In an interview with “NBC Nightly News” on Thursday, Cox expressed her hope for a favorable court decision but acknowledged the ongoing emotional hardship for her family. Regardless of the outcome, Cox emphasized the difficulty of the situation, stating, “Even with being hopeful with the decision that came from the hearing (on Thursday), there’s still — we’re going through the loss of a child.”