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Texas has some of the most restrictive laws on abortion. AP
Abortion Rights

Texas court blocks woman from emergency abortion despite earlier approval

It marked the latest development in a high-stakes showdown over abortion in the conservative southern state.

THE SUPREME COURT of Texas late Friday blocked an emergency abortion for a pregnant woman whose fetus was determined to be not viable, US media reported.

The ruling came after Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton petitioned the high court to stop Kate Cox, a 31 mother of two, from terminating her pregnancy after winning a district judge’s approval for the procedure.

It marked the latest development in a high-stakes showdown over abortion in the conservative southern state, which has some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country.

Cox and doctors argue that a fatal genetic condition her unborn child was diagnosed with — trisomy 18 — could cause the loss of her fertility if she is not allowed an abortion.

On Thursday, District Judge Maya Guerra Gamble said that Cox, who is 20 weeks pregnant, should be permitted to have an abortion under a medical exception provision in Texas’s abortion laws that allows the procedure when a woman’s health is at risk.

But Paxton petitioned the state’s high court to block the lower court’s decision, and late on Friday the Supreme Court ordered the stay, according to a copy of the ruling released by Cox’s lawyers.

CNN, the Houston Chronicle and the New York Times reported on the high court ruling.

The Texas suit is one of a number brought since the Supreme Court last year overturned Roe v. Wade, the case that granted a constitutional right to abortion five decades ago.

The Center for Reproductive Rights, which represented Cox, said it believed the Texas case was the first in which a woman was asking a court for an emergency abortion since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973.

The case has heightened debate about medical exceptions in Texas, which bars the procedure after six weeks of pregnancy.

Paxton said district court Judge Maya Guerra Gamble, who gave Cox the legal green light, “abused her discretion” by deeming that Cox qualified for the exception.

Texas also punishes those who collaborate to help perform an abortion.

Cox’s lawsuit seeks to protect her husband and Dr. Damla Karsan, who examined Cox and offered to assist her in the procedure.

The Texas law does allow abortions in cases where the mother’s life could be at risk but physicians have said the wording is unclear and they risk serious legal consequences.

Paxton sent letters to hospitals on Thursday, warning them of the legal consequences they could face if they performed an abortion.

Texas doctors guilty of performing illegal abortions face up to 99 years in prison, fines of up to $100,000 and revocation of their medical licenses.

CRR attorney Marc Hearron said Thursday that Paxton was trying to “tear down the legal system” so that Cox and women with similar cases “will continue to suffer.”

© Agence France-Presse