Texas Lawmakers’ Disregard for Pregnant People Endangers Lives

In December 2023, a Travis County judge allowed Texan Kate Cox to terminate her pregnancy after she found out her fetus had a lethal condition. Coxs case has highlighted the issues and dangers surrounding Texas anti-abortion laws.
In December 2023, a Travis County judge allowed Texan Kate Cox to terminate her pregnancy after she found out her fetus had a lethal condition. Cox’s case has highlighted the issues and dangers surrounding Texas’ anti-abortion laws.
Bella Yi

In December 2023, doctors informed Kate Cox, a 20-week-pregnant Texan, that her fetus had a lethal condition known as trisomy-18. Cox then filed a lawsuit requesting the state of Texas to allow her to terminate her pregnancy, an action which would have otherwise been in violation of the Texas Heartbeat Act

Then, when a Travis County judge ruled that she should not be punished for her abortion, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a petition asking the Texas Supreme Court to overturn this ruling. However, before the high court ruled that Cox should be allowed a life-saving abortion, Cox had already fled the state to seek medical care for her declining health. 

While Cox’s lawsuit is historical, her situation is not unusual. Texas, like many other states with a near-full abortion ban, forces many pregnant people to carry nonviable pregnancies to term. Those who can afford to travel often attempt to get an abortion in a state that allows it, leading to an influx of Texans in more progressive areas like New Mexico or Colorado, often overwhelming hospitals. 

Additionally, the Texas Heartbeat Act leaves a lot of room for error. Miscarriages, which occur in about one in eight pregnancies, result in the loss of a fetus due to complications outside of someone’s control. A miscarriage cannot be stopped once started, and is life-threatening in many cases if complications remain untreated. 

However, in some miscarriages, there may still be fetal cardiac activity, meaning termination of the fetus can often be considered illegal in Texas. The process for treating miscarriages is also the same procedure as an abortion, meaning many doctors deny people the treatment in fear of prosecution.  

But pregnant people, like Cox, who are in need of medical care shouldn’t have to face the law, or even death, in order to survive another day. This lack of regard from the state when it comes to pregnancy and reproductive rights is a clear indication of Texas’ lack of care for its citizens. 

The lawmakers that write and enact these anti-abortion laws are overwhelmingly, predominantly male, meaning these laws do not affect them. Thus, because they face no personally harmful repercussions, the legislature becomes an indication of their attempt to control a vulnerable population. 

And yet, these people want nothing to do with the harmful implications of the legislature that they contribute to. Staunchly pro-life Texas Senator Ted Cruz initially dubbed the Heartbeat Act a “massive victory” in an interview with Fox News in June 2022, but still dodged questions about Cox’s lawsuit when questioned.

While there clearly isn’t a simple way to solve the debate around abortion, there are solutions lawmakers can implement that are proven to effectively decrease the abortion rate. 

Extensive research has shown that abortion rates hardly drop, if at all, when abortions are banned. Instead, these restrictions increase the amount of unsafe abortions happening in an area. As such, banning abortion is not the answer, and instead leads to unfortunate conditions for pregnant people, as seen in Cox’s case and many others. 

Texas lawmakers should instead turn to proper education of Texan students to decrease abortion levels. The mandated Texas health education, primarily written in 1995, is outdated at best and misinformative at worst. Texas law requires that sexual education promote abstinence as the “preferred choice of behavior” in regards to sexual activity. 

However, a study found that the level of abstinence education in schools played a significant role in teen pregnancy and birth rates, stating that teen pregnancy and birth rates were significantly higher in states promoting abstinence-only education, such as Texas. 

Rather than hypocritically promoting abstinence-only education and then forcing pregnant teens to carry their pregnancies to term, Texas law should rewrite health education to promote more than one form of conception prevention. That way, the abortion debate doesn’t even need to be a debate. 

As Senator Cruz’s website preaches, Cruz is committed to “ensuring every family has [the] same opportunity.” The least he and other lawmakers can do is ensure that pregnant people like Cox who are in need of care have an opportunity to live life the way they want, just like anyone else.

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About the Contributor
Bella Yi, Reporter
Class of 2026 Howdy!! I’m excited to be on student press this year and can’t wait to create for the Horizon and Heritage. In my free time, you can find me playing video games, playing piano, baking, painting, and cracking bad jokes.

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