By Kanishka Singh
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Top Democratic leaders and advocacy groups on Saturday condemned the Texas Supreme Court’s decision to temporarily block a pregnant woman from obtaining an emergency abortion.
The Texas court on Friday halted a lower court ruling that had allowed the emergency abortion for Kate Cox, 31, of the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The state’s Supreme Court was responding to a petition from Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who had requested the block.
“While our client Kate is enduring an active medical crisis, the State of Texas is using her health care as a political football. Texas’s actions are intolerable,” the Center for Reproductive Rights said on Saturday.
The legal battle is a major test case since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the nationwide constitutional right to abortion last year, enabling states like Texas to pass near complete bans.
The top Democrat in the House of Representatives, Hakeem Jeffries, said on Saturday, “MAGA Republicans in Texas and throughout the country are risking the lives of mothers,” using an acronym for Republican former President Donald Trump’s slogan “make America great again.”
Cox sought court authorization for the abortion because her fetus was diagnosed on Nov. 27 with trisomy 18, a genetic abnormality that usually results in miscarriage, stillbirth or death soon after birth.
Cox, who is about 20 weeks pregnant, said in her lawsuit that she would need to undergo her third caesarean section if she continues the pregnancy. That could jeopardize her ability to have more children, which she and her husband want.
Paxton has warned that any doctors involved in providing the emergency abortion would not be safe from prosecution. Texas’ abortion ban includes only a narrow exception to save the mother’s life or prevent substantial impairment of a major bodily function.
Democratic U.S. President Joe Biden’s 2024 campaign called Cox’s story “horrifying” and “heartbreaking.”
“A Texas woman was just forced to beg for life-saving health care in court, and now any doctor who provides her the care she urgently needs is being threatened with punishment,” said the campaign’s co-chair and Texas Representative Veronica Escobar. “This story is shocking, it’s horrifying, and it’s heartbreaking.”
Democratic U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren described Cox’s situation as “cruel.”
Warren and the Biden campaign said Cox’s position was the direct consequence of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2022 reversal of the nationwide constitutional right to abortion, for which they blamed Trump due to his nomination of justices to the top court when he held office.
(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Washington; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)