‘I need to end my pregnancy now’

Why Kate Cox is suing Texas over abortion law

by Kate Cox

We have always wanted a large family, and after our 3-year-old daughter and 1-year-old son came along, Justin and I began planning and trying for one more. Because both of my earlier pregnancies required C-sections, we knew this one and any subsequent pregnancy would be considered a higher risk to me and to the pregnancy.

We were so excited to learn I was pregnant again in August and had so much fun springing the news on our wider family at a family event. Being a mom is the absolute greatest part of my life. Every day is filled with love and laughter.

Things were going smoothly until my doctor called me — unexpectedly — to give me the results of an early screening test. She asked if I was driving. Sensing the seriousness of her tone, I pulled over to the side of the road. My heart and stomach sank.

She said more tests needed to be done, but that there was an increased risk that our third baby, a baby girl, had Trisomy 18, also known as Edwards syndrome. I stayed parked in my car, frantically googling Trisomy 18. Tears rolled down my face as I read about issues with multiple vital organs and learned that “most of the cases do not last the full pregnancy and result in stillbirths.”

We were devastated but tried to remain hopeful. The waiting was tough on both of us. It took five weeks from first hearing the news of an early screening test to receiving the final diagnosis after an amniocentesis, a diagnostic test that could tell us if our baby has full Trisomy 18.

At times, we felt optimistic but at other times, pessimistic. I kept thinking, maybe the early tests are wrong. Maybe she will have a really nice life in a wheelchair. Each week brought more ultrasounds and more bad news. There are issues with her spine, heart, brain, and limb development, among other conditions.

And then it was for certain: We now know she has full Trisomy 18 and cannot sustain life.

An abortion was not something I ever imagined I would want or need; I just never thought I’d be in the situation I’m in right now. Twenty weeks pregnant with a baby that won’t survive and could jeopardize my health and a future pregnancy.

The daily pregnancy reminders are hard to handle, especially when I feel her moving around and kicking. I’m noticeably pregnant and kind strangers in the grocery store line smile at me and my two children and want to know how far along I am.

My doctors are amazing. They patiently answered all my questions but never told me what I should do. I asked, what do other women do in this situation? They said some choose to continue the pregnancy and some don’t. I was shocked to learn that if I chose the latter, I couldn’t get an abortion in Texas. These caring doctors were trained to help me, but the new abortion bans in Texas tie their capable hands.

I kept asking more questions, including how much time we might have with her if I continued the pregnancy. The answer was maybe an hour — or at most, a week. Our baby would be in hospice care from the moment she is born if she were to be born alive. It isn’t a matter of if I will have to say goodbye to her, but when.

In most states in our country, I could receive the abortion care I want and need right now. In a strange twist of fate, I received the amniocentesis results the same day the Zurawski vs. Texas case was at the Texas Supreme Court and all over the news. This case includes 20 women who are challenging the state’s exceptions on abortion.

I reached out to the Center for Reproductive Rights to help me access the essential and humane health care I seek in my home state of Texas. I am a Texan. Why should I or any other woman have to drive or fly hundreds of miles to do what we feel is best for ourselves and our families, to determine our own futures?

I’m trying to do what is best for my baby daughter and myself and my family, but we are suffering because of the laws in Texas.

I do not want to continue the pain and suffering that has plagued this pregnancy or continue to put my body or my mental health through the risks of continuing this pregnancy. I do not want my baby to arrive in this world only to watch her suffer.

I need to end my pregnancy now so that I have the best chance for my health, for parenting my children, and for a future pregnancy.

With help from the center, I am asking the Texas courts to grant me a temporary restraining order saying that my situation falls under the exception to the state’s abortion bans. Not because my pregnancy is exceptional, just because this is life. It’s my decision.

Kate Cox is a working mother of two from the Dallas metropolitan area. She wrote this for the Dallas Morning News.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Last week, Judge Maya Guerra Gamble of Travis County district court in Texas granted Kate Cox a temporary restraining order to permit her doctor to perform an abortion, then the Texas Supreme Court ordered a stay of Gamble’s ruling. On Monday, Cox announced she would travel out of state for the procedure.