Kate Cox asked the Texas Supreme Court to give her permission to abort her unborn baby, a baby that has a condition known as trisomy 18. On Monday, her lawyers said that she will go to another state to end the baby’s life. That same day, the court said Texas law didn’t require her to ask its permission.
Trisomy 18 is a condition where a baby has an extra copy of chromosome 18, making it highly likely that the baby will die in the womb or shortly after birth—though some babies with trisomy 18 do survive, such as former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum’s daughter. Cox’s lawyers have argued that by not aborting her baby, Cox is jeopardizing her health and future fertility.
The same day that Cox’s lawyers said she would seek an abortion in another state, the Texas Supreme Court said in its opinion that “a pregnant woman does not need a court order to have a lifesaving abortion in Texas.”
The court ruling also noted that Cox’s doctor, Damla Karsan, “asked a [lower] 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.”
Further, the ruling stated:
A woman who meets the medical-necessity exception need not seek a court order to obtain an abortion. Under the law, it is a doctor who must decide that a woman is suffering from a life-threatening condition during a pregnancy, raising the necessity for an abortion to save her life or to prevent impairment of a major bodily function. The law leaves to physicians—not judges—both the discretion and the responsibility to exercise their reasonable medical judgment, given the unique facts and circumstances of each patient.
“The Center for Reproductive Rights and an abortion-crusading doctor provoked this confrontation, apparently for political purposes,” said Thomas Jipping, senior legal fellow in the Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at The Heritage Foundation. (The Daily Signal is the news outlet of The Heritage Foundation.)
“They filed an unnecessary lawsuit and claimed unjustified confusion about what the state law requires in order to create an highly public flashpoint in the conflict over abortion,” he added.
Sarah Parshall Perry, also a senior legal fellow in the Edwin Meese III Center, emphasized that in Texas, pregnant women do not need a court order to have a lifesaving abortion.
“Which begs the question: Why did she and her doctor seek one?” Perry questioned. “Physicians make in-the-moment professional judgments regularly. The difference here is that the doctor claimed ignorance as to what her ‘reasonable medical judgment’ could actually entail. Kate Cox could have stayed right where she was and received the abortion she sought.”
Pro-life activists expressed strong sympathies for the mother but stressed the importance of valuing the innate dignity of every life.
Katie Daniel, state policy director at SBA Pro-Life America, emphasized to The Daily Signal that “it’s always a heartbreaking situation to be told your child may not have long to live.”
“Compassion and care should have been given to both Kate Cox and her baby, and sadly, that did not happen,” she said. “There are two patients involved, and targeting one of them for brutal abortion will never be the compassionate answer.”
“It’s shocking that a judge would create her own judicial bypass around the state’s law to allow for an abortion,” Daniel added. “Texas law protects mothers who need lifesaving care in a medical emergency, which a doctor can provide without deliberately taking a patient’s life and without involving the court.”
The American Association of Pro-life Obstetricians and Gynecologists also expressed deep sorrow for the Cox family and the “tragic diagnoses and health challenges” that they have faced.
“Though we cannot speak to the specifics of her case without her medical records, we do know that life-affirming medicine does allow women to obtain treatment for pregnancy complications, as does the Texas law,” AAPLOG said in a statement to The Daily Signal. “However, a fetal diagnosis of trisomy 18, in and of itself, is not a threat to the mother’s life. With properly informed consent and a health care team that’s committed to honoring the dignity and value of both mom and baby, mothers can receive quality care in Texas, and their babies can be given a chance at life.”
The organization noted that laws protecting the preborn exist “in part to affirm the dignity of fetal human beings with life-limiting conditions rather than ending a preborn child’s life prematurely simply because it is predicted to be shorter than most people’s.”
“A more life-affirming option is perinatal palliative care, in which parents can be supported by medical staff and grief counselors as they care for their child, regardless of the length of his or her life,” AAPLOG’s statement said. “Perinatal palliative care has been shown to yield better mental health outcomes for grieving parents and respects the value of both mom and baby, unlike induced abortion. That’s the kind of dignified care that our patients deserve.”
“Relatable” podcast host Allie Beth Stuckey argued on X, formerly known as Twitter, that “a fatal diagnosis of an unborn child is not a justification for killing them.”
“When the choice is between dismemberment and delivery, you deliver,” she stressed. “You show them love and dignity. You give them a funeral. You don’t discard them like medical waste. Either way, the baby has to come out. The choice is between allowing the baby to come out whole or in pieces.”
“While we can have compassion for the tragedy of receiving such a devastating diagnosis, we should never use a diagnosis to justify murdering an innocent baby,” she told The Daily Signal on Tuesday afternoon.
And Lila Rose, president of the pro-life organization Live Action, defended the unborn baby’s life on X as well.
“A baby with Trisomy 18 has the same dignity and worth as you or me,” Rose said. “They deserve love and care for however many moments, days or years they have on earth—not the extreme torture of dismemberment by an abortionist.”
Have an opinion about this article? To sound off, please email letters@DailySignal.com, and we’ll consider publishing your edited remarks in our regular “We Hear You” feature. Remember to include the URL or headline of the article plus your name and town and/or state.