NOT SO FAST LITTLE LADY
Dec 7 (Reuters) – Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Thursday threatened to prosecute any doctors involved in providing an emergency abortion to a woman, hours after she won a court order allowing her to obtain one for medical necessity.
Paxton said in a letter that the order by District Court Judge Maya Guerra Gamble in Austin did not shield doctors from prosecution under all of Texas’s abortion laws, and that the woman, Kate Cox, had not shown she qualified for the medical exception to the state’s abortion ban.
Paxton said in a statement accompanying the letter that Guerra Gamble’s order “will not insulate hospitals, doctors, or anyone else, from civil and criminal liability for violating Texas’ abortion laws.” The letter was sent to three hospitals where Damla Karsan, the doctor who said she would provide the abortion to Cox, has admitting privileges.
A Texas judge on Thursday granted an emergency order allowing a pregnant woman whose fetus has a fatal diagnosis to get an abortion in the state.
Late last month, Kate Cox, a 31-year-old Dallas-area mother of two who is about 20 weeks pregnant, found out that her developing fetus has trisomy 18, a rare chromosomal disorder likely to cause stillbirth or the death of the baby shortly after it’s born.
Texas law prohibits almost all abortions with very limited exceptions. So on behalf of Cox, her husband and her doctor, lawyers with the Center for Reproductive Rights filed a request for a temporary restraining order that would block the state’s abortion bans in Cox’s case and enable her to terminate her pregnancy.
Johnathan Stone, with the Texas Attorney General’s Office, argued in court that Cox hadn’t proved she would suffer “immediate and irreparable injury” and suggested that a subsequent hearing be allowed with more evidence.
He said under state law doctors can use “reasonable medical judgement” in providing an emergency abortion to protect a woman’s life at risk, but that it didn’t appear Cox met that definition.
“The state attempts to second guess Miss Cox’s positions and say that she is still not sick enough,” Duane said. “They have moved the goalposts once again. Now a patient must be about to die before a doctor can rely on the exception. This position is not only cruel and dangerous, but it flies in the face of the Texas Constitution, medical ethics and the laws themselves.”
Cox, who is about 20 weeks pregnant said in her lawsuit that she has had two previous Caesarian sections and would need a third one if she continues the pregnancy. That could jeopardize her ability to have more children, which she said she and her husband wanted.
“The idea that Ms. Cox wants desperately to be a parent, and this law might actually cause her to lose that ability, is shocking and would be a genuine miscarriage of justice,” said District Judge Maya Guerra Gamble in Austin, Texas, state court, as she granted Cox’s request.
“Today’s decision underscores what we already know – abortion is essential health care,” Cox’s lawyer, Molly Duane, said in a statement after the hearing. “While we are grateful that Kate will be able to get this urgent medical care, it is unforgivable that she was forced to go to court to ask for it in the middle of a medical emergency.”