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Texas Supreme Court temporarily blocks mom’s emergency abortion, setting up potential legal showdown

The state Supreme Court’s action temporarily blocked the abortion until the justices decide whether to accept the case.

Published: December 9, 2023 12:22am

Updated: December 9, 2023 12:24am

The Texas Supreme Court late Friday temporarily blocked a lower court’s ruling that permitted a woman to abort a fetus diagnosed with a fatal disorder, setting the stage for a legal showdown over the state’s abortion ban.

“Without regard to the merits, the Court administratively stays the district court’s December 7, 2023 order,” the all-Republican high court  declared in the case of Kate Cox.

The Dallas-area mother said she learned last week that her fetus suffered from the chromosomal disorder trisomy 18, which usually results in either stillbirth or early death. Backed by The Center for Reproductive Rights, Cox filed a suit seeking a medical exception to the state’s abortion ban.

A state district court granted her request. State law bans most abortions after six weeks.

But Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton appealed, arguing Cox does not meet the criteria for a medical exception to the state’s abortion ban and warning doctors they could face prosecution if they proceeded with the procedure. 

“Future criminal and civil proceedings cannot restore the life that is lost if Plaintiffs or their agents proceed to perform and procure an abortion in violation of Texas law,” Paxton’s team argued.

The state Supreme Court’s action temporarily blocked the abortion until the justices decide whether to accept the case.

The Center urged a speedy resolution. “While we still hope that the Court ultimately rejects the state’s request and does so quickly, in this case we fear that justice delayed will be justice denied,” Molly Duane, an attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights, was quoted by The Associated Press as saying.

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