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Texas woman whose fetus has fatal condition sues for abortion

A 31-year-old woman sued the state of Texas in order to get an abortion for a pregnancy that she and her doctors say threatens her life.

Kate Cox, a mother-of-two from Dallas-Fort Worth learned last week that her fetus has full trisomy 18, a genetic condition that means her pregnancy may not survive until birth and if it does her baby would be stillborn or would live at most a few days
Kate Cox, a mother-of-two from Dallas-Fort Worth learned last week that her fetus has full trisomy 18, a genetic condition that means her pregnancy may not survive until birth and if it does her baby would be stillborn or would live at most a few days - Copyright Kate Cox/AFP HANDOUT
Kate Cox, a mother-of-two from Dallas-Fort Worth learned last week that her fetus has full trisomy 18, a genetic condition that means her pregnancy may not survive until birth and if it does her baby would be stillborn or would live at most a few days - Copyright Kate Cox/AFP HANDOUT

A 31-year-old woman sued the state of Texas on Tuesday in order to get an abortion for a pregnancy that she and her doctors say threatens her life and future fertility.

Kate Cox, a mother-of-two from Dallas-Fort Worth, learned last week that her fetus has full trisomy 18, a genetic condition that means her pregnancy may not survive until birth and if it does her baby would live at most a few days, according to the lawsuit.

Ultrasounds revealed multiple serious conditions including a twisted spine and irregular skull and heart development.

But because of the way Texas’ abortion law is formulated, her physicians told her their “hands are tied” and she will have to wait until her baby dies inside her, the filing brought on Cox’s behalf by the Center for Reproductive Rights said.

Should the heart stop beating, they could offer her a labor induction — but because of her prior C-sections, induction carries a high risk of rupturing her uterus, which could kill her or prevent her from getting pregnant in future if a hysterectomy is needed.

“It is not a matter of if I will have to say goodbye to my baby, but when. I’m trying to do what is best for my baby and myself, but the state of Texas is making us both suffer,” said Cox.

“I do not want to continue the pain and suffering that has plagued this pregnancy,” added Cox, who has been to three different emergency rooms in the last month due to severe cramping and unidentified fluid leaks.

Cox is joined in her lawsuit by her husband Justin — who is seeking a favorable legal ruling to assure he won’t be prosecuted for assisting his wife in getting an abortion — as well as by obstetrician-gynecologist Damla Karsan who says she is willing to terminate the pregnancy with court approval.

The Texas Supreme Court heard arguments last week in a case brought on behalf of two doctors and 20 women who were denied abortions even though they had serious — in some cases life-threatening — complications with their pregnancies.

The lawsuit, also filed by the Center for Reproductive Rights, argues that the way medical exceptions are defined under the conservative state’s abortion restrictions is confusing, stoking fear among doctors and causing a “health crisis.”

The Texas Supreme Court is expected to soon issue a decision whether to block the state’s abortion bans in cases such as Cox’s.

The US Supreme Court overturned the constitutional right to abortion in June 2022.

A Texas state “trigger” ban went into immediate effect, prohibiting abortions even in cases of rape or incest. Texas also has a law that allows private citizens to sue anyone who performs or aids an abortion.

Texas physicians found guilty of providing abortions face up to 99 years in prison, fines of up to $100,000 and the revocation of their medical license.

AFP
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With 2,400 staff representing 100 different nationalities, AFP covers the world as a leading global news agency. AFP provides fast, comprehensive and verified coverage of the issues affecting our daily lives.

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