Kate Cox Case Challenges Texas Abortion Law with Medical Exception

Texas’ medical exemption law gets tested: Kate Cox is a 31-year-old mother of two who is 20 weeks pregnant with her third child and seeking an abortion.

The baby has trisomy 18, which means it will most likely either be stillborn or die early in infancy. Cox has been to the emergency room several times during this pregnancy, and is arguing in court that continuing the pregnancy will risk her health, thus falling under the exception to the Texas abortion law, which does not generally permit abortions but allows them if the mother’s life is in danger or if an abortion would prevent the “substantial impairment of major bodily function.”

Last week, a trial judge ruled that Cox could receive an abortion in the state, but Texas’ Supreme Court put a hold on the trial judge’s ruling this past Friday.

Then yesterday, the state Supreme Court ruled that Damla Karsan, Cox’s doctor, hadn’t sufficiently made the case that the medical exemption applied to her patient.

“Our ruling today does not block a life-saving abortion in this very case if a physician determines that one is needed under the appropriate legal standard, using reasonable medical judgment,” wrote the high court. “But when she sued seeking a court’s pre-authorization, Dr. Karsan did not assert that Ms. Cox has a ‘life-threatening physical condition’ or that, in Dr. Karsan’s reasonable medical judgment, an abortion is necessary because Ms. Cox has the type of condition the exception requires.”

“Some difficulties in pregnancy, however, even serious ones, do not pose the heightened risks to the mother the exception encompasses,” continued the ruling. Now, Cox says she will go out of state to get the abortion immediately.

Cox is one of the first who has sought a court-ordered exception since the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization ruling which overturned Roe v. Wade and allows states to dictate their own abortion laws. Her case is unique, too, because she is doing so in advance of getting the abortion. Another suit, which attempts to clarify the legal limits surrounding what qualifies as a medical exemption, is being brought before the state of Texas right now as well. And, in three other states, abortion is coming before Supreme Courts this week, as plaintiffs continue to challenge laws to suss out what each state’s new abortion regime permits.

Prior to abortion being made illegal in Texas, there were roughly 50,000 performed annually, down from an almost 80,000 high in 2006. In 2023, there have been 34. University of Texas at Austin researchers note that the vast majority of Texas abortion-seekers choose to get abortions out-of-state (or via securing pills from Mexico), but that Texas’ restrictive laws are associated with a roughly 10 percent reduction in the number of abortions performed.

Zelenskyy’s fundraising drive: Today, President Joe Biden will host Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who has traveled to the U.S. to hold out his hands for some funds for his country’s war against Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion. “A bipartisan group of senators is struggling to finalize an agreement to tighten border security in exchange for more Ukraine funding,” reports Politico, “and the chamber is scheduled to go into recess at the end of this week.” It’s likely that, if such a bill is drafted up at all, Biden will have to acquiesce to restrictions on asylum seekers as a condition for doling out more aid to Ukraine.

The New York Times characterizes Zelenskyy’s visit as a “last-ditch pitch,” which seems about right. A CNN poll from August shows how Americans have soured on supporting funding Ukraine’s war effort, with roughly 55 percent saying that Congress should not authorize any additional spending and 51 percent saying the U.S. has done enough as-is. Contrast this with the 62 percent, right after Putin’s invasion, who supported the U.S. doing more to help Zelenskyy.

“We refuse to allow our tuition dollars to fund apartheid.” Columbia students are holding a tuition strike for the spring 2024 semester in an attempt to get their school to “refuse to invest in ethnic cleansing and genocide abroad” and for “divestment from companies profiting from or otherwise supporting Israeli apartheid and Columbia’s academic ties to Israel.”

They also want the school to “immediately remove Board of Trustees members whose personal investments, financial commitments, employment, or other forms of business involvement entail profit from or support for Israeli apartheid” and changes to campus policing.

They say “it’s highly unlikely that students participating in the tuition strike would face disciplinary action of any kind,” and that “it would be absurd for the university to suspend, expel, or punish a student for this lateness.” Therein lies the problem: Students at elite universities seem to think they’re untouchable, and administrators have set a mighty dangerous precedent by spending the last decade communicating to students that their every need for psychological safety from political beliefs with which they disagree can be accommodated. (More from Reason‘s Jacob Sullum.)


Scenes from New York: This past Friday, a federal appeals court ruled in favor of New York’s restrictive gun law, which denies people the right to carry in certain public places (like parks) and allows local authorities broad discretion in denying gun rights to people they deem dangerous, only permitting licenses to people “of good moral character.” What this actually does is create hoops for law-abiding gun owners to jump through, while doing very little to prevent violence from criminals who own and use guns. (I wrote about Times Square’s silly gun-free zone last year.) 


QUICK HITS

  • Harvard President Claudine Gay has come under fire for repeatedly plagiarizing and improperly attributing written passages over the course of her academic career.
  • The Biden administration’s “latest salvo” in the war against pro-lifers, writes Mike Pence at National Review, “is a proposed rule that would cut off Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funds to pro-life pregnancy resource centers.” Cutting government funding for organizations that can surely operate privately is fine, but doing so in a way that attempts to punish politically disfavored groups is not.
  • Every member of the K-pop band BTS is now doing mandatory military service.
  • Inside NASA’s wormy font choices.
  • Google loses its antitrust battle against Epic Games.
  • The government could have simply not cracked down on single room occupancy units in the first place, instead of now coughing up a bunch of money to try to incentivize landlords to fix ’em up.
  • To be fair, stoned boomers would pose a threat to the economics of the all-you-can-eat buffets on cruise ships, so I can see why cruise lines are cracking down on pot.
  • Lawyers for Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny say he has disappeared from prison and cannot be found.
  • Ugh, no:
  • Just say no (to price controls):