The Texas Supreme Court on Monday overturned a lower court order allowing an abortion for a pregnant woman whose fetus was diagnosed with a fatal condition, hours after her lawyers said she had decided to leave Texas for the procedure in the face of the state’s abortion bans.
The court ruled that the lower court made a mistake in ruling that the woman, Kate Cox, who is more than 20 weeks pregnant, was entitled to a medical exception.
In its seven-page ruling, the Supreme Court found that Ms. Cox’s doctor, Damla Karsan, “asked a court to pre-authorize the abortion yet she could not, or at least did not, attest to the court that Ms. Cox’s condition poses the risks the exception requires.” Texas’ overlapping bans allow for abortions only when a pregnancy seriously threatens the health or life of the woman.
“These laws reflect the policy choice that the Legislature has made, and the courts must respect that choice,” the court wrote.
The ruling, which applied only to Ms. Cox’s current pregnancy, suggested that the court would not be open to readings of the law that would expand the medical exception in Texas beyond all but the most serious cases. The fact that Ms. Cox decided to leave the state rather than wait for a ruling underscored the difficulty of seeking court permission for an abortion in the midst of a pregnancy.
Ms. Cox asked the lower court for approval after she learned that her fetus had a fatal condition, and after several trips to the emergency room. Her lawyers and her doctor argued that carrying the pregnancy to term risked her health and her future ability to have children.