Global Economy

Texas judge grants court-ordered abortion to pregnant woman in landmark ruling amidst state's strict ban

A Texas judge has ruled that a pregnant woman who took legal action against the state to secure an abortion can indeed proceed with terminating her pregnancy, CNN reported.

The decision, issued on Thursday (local time), stands out as a crucial development in the ongoing discourse surrounding the state’s stringent ban on abortions post-six weeks, recognised as one of the most restrictive nationwide.

Kate Cox, currently at 20 weeks of pregnancy, initiated a lawsuit this week in an Austin state district court, seeking a temporary injunction against the state’s abortion ban. She cited concerns about violating the law and explained that her baby, diagnosed with trisomy 18, is not expected to survive beyond a few days outside the womb.

Following the judge’s decision, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton cautioned Cox’s physician about potential civil and criminal consequences if the court-ordered procedure were to be performed.

Cox’s legal pursuit is thought to be among the initial attempts nationwide by an individual seeking a court-mandated abortion post the Supreme Court‘s overturning of Roe v Wade last year, as reported by the New York Times.

The 31-year-old Cox, facing severe cramping and unexplained fluid leaks, had sought emergency medical attention in three different hospitals in the past month. Her lawsuit highlighted the elevated risks due to her previous caesarean surgeries, emphasising potential complications like uterine rupture and hysterectomy if the pregnancy continued.In an emergency hearing held on Thursday, the judge granted a temporary restraining order against the state, enabling Cox to promptly undergo an abortion. The emotional moment during the Zoom hearing, where Cox and her husband were visibly moved, underscored the significance of the judge’s decision.Molly Duane, Cox’s attorney, conveyed their commitment to determining the swiftest way for her abortion care while refraining from disclosing specific details for safety reasons.

Duane emphasised that despite this ruling benefiting Cox, the fight is far from over, as it exclusively addresses her case and does not reinstate abortion access for numerous other women. She criticised the state’s stance as “callous in the extreme,” asserting that they appear indifferent to the well-being of individuals as long as they are compelled to give birth.

Marc Hearron, an attorney with the Center for Reproductive Rights, expressed reservations about expecting a surge in similar cases, deeming it unrealistic, according to CNN.

Paxton, in a letter threatening future legal action, argued that Cox failed to demonstrate a “life-threatening” medical condition or imminent danger to her life or significant bodily harm due to her symptoms.

The letter was dispatched to three Houston hospitals, where Cox’s physician holds privileges. Paxton’s office released the letter to the media, and CNN has sought responses from the hospitals.

Paxton cautioned the hospitals that the recent ruling does not shield them from potential civil and criminal liabilities, including first-degree felony prosecutions and civil penalties of at least USD 100,000 per violation.

He clarified that the ruling also does not preclude private citizens from pursuing civil action, alluding to Senate Bill 8, the contentious Texas law enabling individuals to sue those involved in performing or facilitating an abortion, CNN reported.