HomeHealthKate Cox leaves Texas to have an abortion. New data shows...

Kate Cox leaves Texas to have an abortion. New data shows she’s part of the post-Roe travel surge.

On Monday, Kate Cox, a pregnant Texas woman embroiled in a legal battle over her state’s abortion ban, will leave the state to undergo potentially life-saving abortion treatment. New data shows that Cox, who is 21 weeks pregnant and whose fetus was recently diagnosed with a genetic condition, is part of what abortion rights advocates are calling a “dehumanizing” wave of people crossing state lines in search of reproductive care after Roe v .Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that legalized abortion nationwide, was overturned in June 2022.

“Kate desperately wanted to be able to receive care where she lives and recover at home surrounded by family,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, which represents Cox, said in a tweet. “While Kate had the option to leave the state, most people do not, and a situation like this could be a death sentence.”

According to the latest data from the Guttmacher Institute – a research group that advocates abortion rights – just over 92,000 people in the US traveled to other states to receive abortion care in the first half of 2023, more than double the 40,600 who did so . the same during a similar period in 2020. The December report, which provides monthly estimates of abortions performed by a formal U.S. health care system, attributes the increase in travel to post-Roe abortion laws.

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“It is outrageous and inhumane that Kate Cox is forced to flee her home state to access the abortion care she needs and deserves,” Kimya Forouzan, chief state policy officer at the Guttmacher Institute, said in a statement to Yahoo News. “No one should ever be forced to seek permission from a judge or forced to assume the emotional, financial and logistical barriers associated with traveling out of state to access an abortion.”

Kate Cox

Kate Cox will leave Texas for abortion care. (Kate Cox/AP)

On November 28, the 31-year-old mother of two underwent a prenatal test that confirmed a diagnosis of trisomy 18, a genetic condition that puts her fetus at risk of death.

After the diagnosis, Cox’s doctors told her that getting an abortion was the safest option to protect her health and future fertility, according to the lawsuit, but warned her that no doctor in the state would likely perform the procedure because of the laws of Texas. Texas criminalizes performing an abortion after six weeks of pregnancy unless the person has “a life-threatening physical condition aggravated by, caused by, or resulting from pregnancy.”

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Cox filed a lawsuit on December 5 seeking a temporary restraining order on the state’s abortion ban.

Last Thursday, Judge Maya Guerra Gamble granted her request for an injunction allowing Cox to have an abortion under the medical exemption rule. But Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton urged the Texas Supreme Court to block the order in a petition. In Paxton’s filing, he said Cox did not meet the criteria for a medical exception. Paxton also sent a letter to three hospitals where Dr. Damla Karsan, the gynecologist who said she would perform Cox’s abortion if she was allowed to do so under the temporary order, could admit patients. The attorney general threatened to prosecute all providers involved in performing an abortion on a patient.

Local governments in Texas, such as Lubbock County, near New Mexico, where abortion is not banned, have also tried to ban travel for abortion care. But legal experts doubt whether the regulations will be enforced. The Guttmacher Institute study found that New Mexico, which also borders Oklahoma, another state where abortion is generally banned, saw the largest increase in the number of patients traveling for abortion care.

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“Kate Cox’s story exposes the undeniable cruelty of the Texas abortion ban — and all abortion bans — for what it is,” Forouzan said. “This devastating story shows that we cannot rely on exceptions to the abortion ban to guarantee care for anyone. The only way to guarantee access to those experiencing serious pregnancy complications and everyone else is to end all restrictions on abortion.”

Cox’s attorney said in a filing with the Texas Supreme Court that Cox plans to continue with her lawsuit.

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