Statement on Texas Supreme Court’s Cox ruling

Jennifer Carr Allmon, the executive director of the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops, has issued the following statement regarding the Texas Supreme Court's ruling in the case of Kate Cox, who has challenged Texas' ban on abortions.

The Texas Supreme Court’s ruling in the case of Kate Cox, a pregnant woman who challenged the abortion ban in Texas based on the diagnosis of a fetal abnormality, states that the law explicitly allows for abortion procedures when the life of the mother is at risk. Mrs. Cox’s doctor did not assert that her life was at risk.  

Mrs. Cox’s baby has been diagnosed with Trisomy 18, which is a chromosomal disorder that poses no risk to the life of the mother. While this diagnosis will be life limiting for the baby, there is nothing in Texas law that allows a mother to abort her child due to a disability or difficult fetal diagnosis, nor should there be.   

We know the compassionate response to a mother facing a difficult fetal diagnosis is to offer perinatal palliative care, typically associated with specialized children’s hospitals which are staffed with professionals trained to support the family of an unborn child with a serious illness. Programs vary, but services usually include advance care planning, sibling support, care coordination, and anticipatory grief work. The perinatal palliative care team remains involved with the family from time of referral, through pregnancy, and into the delivery and postpartum period. This type of care respects the dignity of the life of the baby and provides compassionate care for the family. It is a fundamental work of Christian mercy to accompany those mourning the loss of a loved one. Continuing the development and increasing the availability of palliative care services and hospice programs for perinatal and pediatric patients is an essential and compassionate task in the post-Roe era. As some doctors are confused about the law, we also agree with the Texas Supreme Court that guidance by the Texas Medical Board would be prudent.  

Catholic hospitals, including in Texas, have been providing compassionate care for women and babies (born and unborn) for centuries without elective abortions. The new law in Texas has not impacted their ability to provide consistent care for these families in accordance with the Ethical and Religious Directives approved by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. As the Church continues to accompany mothers and their children in this special way, we echo the exhortation of Pope Francis in “Amoris Laetitia”:  

“Every child growing within the mother’s womb is part of the eternal loving plan of God the Father: 'Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you' (Jer 1:5). Each child has a place in God’s heart from all eternity; once he or she is conceived, the Creator’s eternal dream comes true" (no. 168 ).