Apr 2, 2024 - News

The faces of abortion rights in Texas

Kate Cox (middle) joined First Lady Jill Biden (right) and women's rights activist Maria Shriver (left) at the State of the Union address in Washington D.C.

Kate Cox (middle) joined First Lady Jill Biden (right) and women's rights activist Maria Shriver (left) at the State of the Union address in Washington, D.C., on March 7. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Kate and Justin Cox, who would have had their third child this spring if their pregnancy had gone smoothly, became a "reluctant face" of the abortion rights movement, a Time story says.

Why it matters: Texas' abortion restrictions have created confusion and fear among some doctors over how to treat complicated pregnancies.

Threat level: Kate Cox was 18 weeks pregnant last year when she learned that her baby may have had trisomy 18, a rare disease in which a baby is likely to die in utero or shortly after birth.

  • Her obstetrician/gynecologist, Houston-based Dr. Damla Karsan, told Time that she had also been at "heightened risk" of hysterectomy, hemorrhage and uterine rupture. She had already gone to the emergency room several times during the pregnancy.
  • After considering the risks, the Coxes decided to terminate the pregnancy.

Yes, but: After being told she wouldn't be able to get an abortion in Texas, Kate Cox reached out to the Center for Reproductive Rights, which filed a lawsuit on her behalf to get answers from the legal system.

  • She was 20 weeks pregnant when a judge gave her permission to terminate the pregnancy. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton asked the Texas Supreme Court to halt the lower court's order.
  • The Coxes decided to get an abortion in New Mexico instead of waiting for a final decision.
  • The Texas Supreme Court later ruled that Kate Cox did not qualify for an abortion under the law's medical exception.

Zoom in: Karsan, who owns Comprehensive Women's Healthcare in the Texas Medical Center, is also a plaintiff in a lawsuit filed by 22 Texas women seeking clarification of the state's medical exemption.

  • "I … feel an obligation to advocate for those who are suffering, so they can get the care they need and deserve," Karsan told Texas Monthly in February.

The other side: "Texas will proudly continue as a nationwide leader in the protection of the unborn, and the OAG will be steadfast in its mission of defending our state's pro-life laws," Paxton's office said last year.

What's next: The Texas Medical Board's proposed guidance on abortions to doctors is in the public comment phase.

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