Monday, May 27, 2024

Supreme Court Halts Lower Court Order Allowing Abortion in Texas

The Texas Supreme Court late Friday temporarily halted a lower court order allowing a Dallas woman to obtain an abortion in spite of the state’s strict bans, after she learned her fetus has a fatal condition. The state court’s ruling was in response to an appeal from Attorney General Ken Paxton of Texas, who opposed the woman’s abortion. The Supreme Court said that, “without regard to the merits” of the arguments on either side, it had issued an administrative stay in the case, to give itself more time to issue a final ruling.

The stay meant that, for the moment, the order from a judge in Travis County district court permitting the abortion was on hold. That order allowed the woman, Kate Cox, to obtain an abortion and protected her doctor from civil or criminal liability under Texas’s overlapping abortion bans.

“We fear that justice delayed will be justice denied,” said Molly Duane, a senior staff attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights, which is representing Ms. Cox.

Mr. Paxton’s filings came hours after district court judge, issued a temporary restraining order barring Mr. Paxton and others from enforcing the state’s overlapping abortion bans against Ms. Cox’s doctor, Damla Karsan, or anyone who assisted her with providing an abortion to Ms. Cox.
In granting the order, the judge, a Democrat, found that Ms. Cox, 31, a mother of two young children living in the Dallas area, met the criteria for an exception to the state’s abortion bans. Her fetus was diagnosed with trisomy 18, a fatal condition in all but a small number of rare cases; Ms. Cox, who is 20 weeks pregnant, had been to the emergency room several times for pain and discharge during her pregnancy.

“The State’s mandamus petition is stunning in its disregard for Ms. Cox’s life, fertility, and the rule of law,” the lawyers for Ms. Cox wrote. “Plaintiffs respectfully request that this Court deny the writ and instruct the Attorney General to comply with binding orders from a Texas court.”

A spokeswoman for the Center for Reproductive Rights said a decision could come as soon as later in the day. A ruling would apply only to Ms. Cox and her current pregnancy.

After the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last year, the issue of abortion has become a political liability for Republicans in many states.

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