Put up for sacrifice: Anti-abortion zealot Ken Paxton makes mom of two into an example

The Travis County 459th District Court is seen prior to an emergency hearing in Cox v Texas, in Austin, Texas, on Dec. 7, 2023. Kate Cox, a 31-year-old mother-of-two from Dallas-Fort Worth, sued the state of Texas on Dec. 5, 2023, in order to get an abortion for a pregnancy that she and her doctors say threatens her life and future fertility. Cox learned last week that her fetus has full trisomy 18, a condition that means her pregnancy may not survive until birth and if it does her baby would be stillborn or live for minutes, hours or days, according to the lawsuit. (Suzanne Cordeiro/AFP/Getty Images/TNS)

Kate Cox, a 31-year-old Dallas-Fort Worth married mother of two, might die. She’s not recovering from some tragic accident, nor does she have some kind of untreatable ailment. The best path to her health is eminently clear and medically proven: an abortion to terminate an unviable 20-week pregnancy, as recommended by her doctors.

Those doctors notably don’t include Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who has gotten the state Supreme Court to halt a lower court’s temporary restraining order that had given her the right to obtain such an abortion under one of the state’s narrow exceptions to a near-total ban. To ensure that Cox wouldn’t move ahead with a procedure, Paxton also sent letters to several hospitals threatening legal action if they provided Cox the medical care that she so desperately needs.


A medical decision of Cox and her doctors, supported by her husband, should be up to Cox and her doctors, supported by her husband, not Paxton and some judges. The same goes for all women and girls. Abortion care, freely sought and properly medically regulated, should always be available to anyone who needs it, regardless of how compelling politicians might consider their personal circumstances. Nonetheless, Cox’s plight really puts the lie to the claim that any part of this is about protecting life.

In his petition to the high court, Paxton wrote that “nothing can restore the unborn child’s life that will be lost as a result” of their failure to stop the lower court order. He did not specify in the filing what this life would entail; the consensus of Cox’s actual doctors is that the child would live for perhaps a few days of suffering before succumbing to complications of a rare genetic condition.

In other words, Paxton — who knows plenty about opportunistic legal maneuvering from experience delaying his own long-awaited securities fraud trial by more than eight years — is exploiting his office to condemn the child of a nonviable pregnancy to a short and miserable process of dying. That’s not an exaggeration, it’s the almost certain reality as can be dispassionately described by trained medical professionals which, again, Paxton and his lawyers are not.

Paxton’s concerns about life also clearly don’t extend to Cox herself, whose own life is threatened by the pregnancy, not just hypothetically but as evidenced by the fact that she’s already had to go to the emergency room multiple times. Cox needs an abortion in order to protect her own life and her fertility for having a child in the future.

Does Paxton care about Cox’s two children whose lives would certainly be indelibly impacted by the preventable death of their mother? Does he care about anything but his own political agenda?

In effect, Cox has done everything a politician like Paxton might demand. She’s married, has and wants kids and is not considering the termination of a viable pregnancy. That he nonetheless wants her to potentially die — and is intending to prosecute anyone who might help her not die — should be a crystal clear signal that Paxton and his extremist ilk can never be satisfied. Their anti-choice campaign must be defeated decisively, in the courts, at the ballot box and in our moral calculus as a society.