Reproductive Rights
Ken Paxton

Ken Paxton

Only hours after a judge issued a ruling allowing a Texas woman facing a nonviable, life-threatening pregnancy to seek an abortion, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton stepped in to threaten hospitals and doctors with both civil and criminal penalties if they comply with the judge’s ruling.

Kate Cox is a 31-year-old mother of two who was initially excited to discover she was pregnant with her third child. Several weeks into her pregnancy, Cox’s doctors informed her that the fetus had full trisomy 18, a chromosomal condition linked to abnormalities in many parts of the body. Not only does this create a high risk of either stillbirth or miscarriage, but continuing the pregnancy places Cox at high risk of a uterine rupture. This is a serious threat to her health and would imperil her ability to carry another child in the future.

Under Texas’ draconian abortion ban, even someone facing such extreme circumstances as Cox has few options. However, she went to court to seek relief, and as The Texas Tribune reports, Travis County District Judge Maya Guerra Gamble handed down a temporary restraining order that would allow Cox to obtain an abortion. However, Paxton wrote to three Houston-area hospitals within hours, threatening any facility or doctor who provides Cox with medical relief.

Under the current Texas abortion ban, abortions are permissible after six weeks of gestation only if the life of the mother is threatened. In Cox’s case, there is a possibility she could die as a result of continuing the pregnancy. However, the greater threat is to her long-term health.

Even if there are no further complications, the child will either be stillborn or suffer extensive abnormalities leading to rapid death. There is also a high likelihood of a miscarriage. Because Cox's previous two children were delivered via cesarean, a miscarriage at this point in her pregnancy creates a threat of uterine rupture, which would harm her future fertility.

In her ruling, Gamble wrote, “The Court finds that Ms. Cox’s life, health, and fertility are currently at serious risk. The longer Ms. Cox stays pregnant, the greater the risks to her life.”

In Paxton’s letter to three Houston-area hospitals, he calls Gamble an “activist” judge and claims she is unqualified to determine whether Cox faces a life-threatening situation. Paxton tells the hospitals that the temporary restraining order issued by Gamble “will not insulate you, or anyone else, from civil and criminal liability for violating Texas’ abortion laws, including first degree felony prosecutions.”

Additional threats are aimed specifically at Dr. Damla Karsan, who has been identified as the doctor offering to perform the abortion procedure. “We remind you that the [temporary restraining order] will expire long before the statute of limitations for violating Texas’ abortion laws expires,” Paxton writes.

In September, despite clear evidence of his guilt, Paxon was acquitted in an impeachment trial before the Texas Senate. He still faces a federal investigation into the corruption charges at the heart of that impeachment.

According to the Texas Tribune, Cox burst into tears as Judge Gamble handed down her decision on Thursday. Cox issued a statement, saying, “It is not a matter of if I will have to say goodbye to my baby, but when. I’m trying to do what is best for my baby and myself, but the state of Texas is making us both suffer.”

Paxton is doing everything in his power to make sure that suffering continues.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

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Sarah Huckabee Sanders

Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders

Many liberal and progressive pundits have been predicting a "brain drain" from red states — skillful, college-educated doctors, university professors and teachers leaving because of oppressive MAGA policies. OB-GYNs are worried about draconian anti-abortion laws; teachers and librarians are under attack from the far-right Moms for Liberty.

The New Republic's Timothy Noah, in an article published on November 22, emphasizes that the "brain drain" from red states isn't something that may or may not happen in the future — it's already underway.

"Republican-dominated states are pushing out young professionals by enacting extremist conservative policies," Noah reports. "Abortion restrictions are the most sweeping example, but state laws restricting everything from academic tenure to transgender health care to the teaching of 'divisive concepts' about race are making these states uncongenial to knowledge workers."

Noah continues, "The precise effect of all this on the brain drain is hard to tease out from migration statistics because the Dobbs decision is still fairly new, and because red states were bleeding college graduates even before the culture war heated up. The only red state that brings in more college graduates than it sends elsewhere is Texas, but the evidence is everywhere that hard-right social policies in red states are making this dynamic worse."

Noah cites specific examples, including doctors Kate Arnold and Caroline Flint — a same-sex married couple who left deep red Oklahoma and moved to Washington, D.C. to get away from Republican anti-abortion and anti-contraception activities as well as book bans in their former state

"Kate Arnold and Caroline Flint are two bright, energetic, professionally trained, and public-spirited women whom Washington is happy to welcome — they both quickly found jobs —even though it doesn't particularly need them," Noah explains. "The places that need Kate and Caroline are Oklahoma and Mississippi and Idaho and various other conservative states where similar stories are playing out daily. These two fortyish doctors have joined an out-migration of young professionals — accelerated by the culture wars of recent years and pushed to warp speed by Dobbs — that's known as the Red State Brain Drain."

School teacher Tyler Hallstedt, according to Noah, left Tennessee for Michigan because of GOP education policies. And teachers in Texas, Noah notes, have been "quitting at a rate that's 25 percent above the national average," while South Carolina has "teacher shortages in 17 subject areas this school year, more than any other state."

"With the sole exception of Texas," Noah explains, "red states are bleeding college graduates. It's happening even in relatively prosperous Florida. And much as Republicans may scorn Joe and Jane College, they need them to deliver their babies, to teach their children, to pay taxes — college grads pay more than twice as much in taxes — and to provide a host of other services that only people with undergraduate or graduate degrees are able to provide. Red states should be welcoming Kate and Caroline and Tyler and Delana. Instead, they're driving them away, and that's already costing them dearly."

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.