Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has issued a warning of potential legal repercussions to physicians who perform an emergency abortion that was recently authorized by a court ruling. This follows a decision by Travis County Judge Maya Guerra Gamble on December 7, which permitted a 31-year-old woman to undergo an abortion, despite Texas’ restrictive abortion laws.
The court case was initiated by the Center for Reproductive Rights on behalf of Kate Cox, a 20-week pregnant woman. Cox, already a mother of two and expecting her third child, encountered serious complications during her pregnancy. The unborn child was diagnosed with trisomy 18, also known as Edwards syndrome, a condition with a significantly low survival rate. Dr. Damla Karsan, the OB/GYN who would carry out the abortion, was also a plaintiff in the case.
The Center for Reproductive Rights reported that Cox’s medical team advised her that the fetus had no chance of survival and that continuing the pregnancy could pose a serious risk to her health and future fertility.
On the same day as Judge Gamble’s ruling, Paxton’s office dispatched a letter to all hospitals where Dr. Karsan has admitting privileges. The letter warned that the hospitals could face liability for negligently credentialing the physician and failing to exercise appropriate professional judgment if they allowed Dr. Karsan to perform an abortion deemed unlawful.
Paxton’s letter argues that the court order does not protect physicians from prosecution under Texas’ abortion laws and that Dr. Karsan has not demonstrated Cox’s eligibility for medical exceptions to the state’s ban. Critics of Texas’ abortion law argue that the language of the law is too ambiguous, making it unclear what constitutes a valid medical exception.
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