Texas judge rules woman can obtain emergency abortion despite ban

A Texas judge has ruled a woman can bypass state law and obtain an emergency abortion after doctors gave the fetus a fatal diagnosis.

State District Judge Maya Guerra Gamble granted Kate Cox a temporary restraining order Thursday that allows her to have an abortion under narrow exceptions to the state’s heartbeat ban. 

Cox, a 31-year old mother of two, is 20 weeks pregnant and sued the state after being told by doctors that her baby has a genetic condition known as trisomy 18 that makes the baby likely to die in the womb. Continuing the pregnancy also puts Cox’s life at risk from complications, including a ruptured uterus, the lawsuit states.

However, Cox says that doctors are fearful they could face criminal charges if they provide her with an abortion. The procedure is prohibited in nearly all stages of pregnancy under Texas law.

“Kate Cox needs an abortion, and she needs it now,” the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit was filed one week after the Texas Supreme Court held a hearing to discuss whether the state’s abortion law was too restrictive for pregnant women who experience complications. The case was filed in March by the Center for Reproductive Rights, a global legal advocacy organization, on behalf of 20 women who said they were forced to carry out their pregnancies because of the state’s abortion ban despite serious risks to their health.  

Unlike a lot of the other lawsuits that have been filed around the country since Roe v. Wade was overturned, the goal of this one is not to repeal the state’s abortion ban, but rather to force more clarity on when exceptions are allowed. However, a decision on the case could take months. 

As for Cox, it remains unclear how quickly she will be able to obtain an abortion. The judge’s decision is expected to be appealed by the state.