Texas Supreme Court Pauses Order Allowing Abortion in Fatal Diagnosis Case

Texas abortion law
Photo by Lara Jameson:

The Texas Supreme Court issued a late-night order on Friday, December 8, 2023, pausing a lower court’s ruling that allowed a woman with a fatal fetal diagnosis to have an abortion. The order throws into limbo the woman’s case and serves as the latest development in the highly contested legal battle over abortion rights in Texas.

The Case

Kate Cox, a 31-year-old mother of two, was diagnosed with a fatal fetal diagnosis weeks after learning she was pregnant. The diagnosis, trisomy 18, carries a high risk of miscarriage or stillbirth and low survival rates. Cox filed a lawsuit challenging the Texas ban on abortion, arguing that it violated her constitutional rights.

On Thursday, December 7, Judge Maya Guerra Gamble of the 144th District Court in Dallas County granted a temporary restraining order that allowed Cox to obtain an abortion. The judge ruled that the Texas abortion ban violated the state constitution’s guarantee of equal protection under the law.

The Texas Supreme Court’s Intervention

The Texas Supreme Court’s order on Friday night effectively blocks Cox from proceeding with the abortion until the court can review the case further. The court did not provide any explanation for its decision, but it is likely to be based on the state’s argument that the lower court’s ruling was incorrect and that the abortion ban should be upheld.

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The Legal Battle Continues

The Texas Supreme Court’s intervention is just the latest chapter in the ongoing legal battle over abortion rights in Texas. Since the Supreme Court of the United States overturned Roe v. Wade earlier this year, states have been free to enact their own abortion laws. Texas has one of the most restrictive abortion bans in the country, prohibiting abortions after six weeks of pregnancy with no exceptions for rape or incest.

The legal battle over the Texas abortion ban is likely to continue for months, if not years, to come. The Texas Supreme Court’s decision is expected to be appealed to the Supreme Court of the United States, setting up a potential showdown over the future of abortion rights in the country.

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About the case:

The Texas Supreme Court is all-Republican.

The Texas attorney general, Ken Paxton, has argued that the lower court’s ruling was “unlawful” and that the state’s abortion ban should be upheld.

Pro-choice advocates have condemned the Texas Supreme Court’s decision, arguing that it is harmful to women and violates their constitutional rights.