Here’s the pro-life argument that Texas abortion law worked in Cox case

By Mark Davis

The first duty attached to consideration of the tragic case of Kate Cox and her baby is to send her every prayer and good wish for a happy future filled with as many healthy babies as she wishes to have.

Only then can we unpack the complexities of her case, which involved a desire to get an abortion in Texas upon receiving the devastating news that her baby had a genetic disorder, trisomy 18, with a near-certain result of stillbirth or a short sliver of life. One can objectively understand why she would seek to terminate her pregnancy. What is lacking in the coverage, and thus the public understanding, is why the answer had to be no.

That answer has nothing to do with any pro-life stance I might offer, just as the arguments in her favor should not rely on the abortion-rights passions of her advocates. Texas law either provides for an abortion in the Dallas mother’s case or it does not: The state Supreme Court relied solely on the wording of the law, which allows an abortion when, “in the exercise of reasonable medical judgment, the pregnant female … has a life-threatening physical condition aggravated by, caused by, or arising from a pregnancy that places the female at risk of death or poses a serious risk of substantial impairment of a major bodily function unless the abortion is performed or induced.”

In the absence of a prevailing medical opinion that qualified her case for an exception, the court did precisely the right thing. Everyone is free to admire or disparage what the law required, but we are not permitted to supersede the law with our personal opinions.

That was precisely the fuel behind attacks on the lawmakers who had crafted our law and the attorney general who defended it. The air filled with castigations of these detestable people, most of them men, who had dared to intrude on a woman’s access to “health care” or, to turn the term from euphemism to ghoulish oxymoron, “abortion care.”

Pro-choice attorneys heaped condemnation on the state’s refusal to grant an abortion they passionately sought for Cox. It was filled with buzzwords from the usual index cards of “basic freedoms” denied and a woman’s wishes disrespected. These complaints might properly fill a debate as laws are written, but they are wholly irrelevant to the Texas law that actually exists.

So, what is the logic of the law in Texas that protects the unborn to a degree that is so abhorrent to its critics? It involves the foundations of pro-life belief that have been broadly ignored in most coverage of the story. Here is the basis for why even this ill-fated baby was not extinguishable:

Pro-life belief posits that the new life growing in the womb is sacred. It does not become less sacred in the event of the terrible crimes of rape and incest, and it certainly does not become less sacred if problems arise in the pregnancy, even those that doom the new life before delivery or soon thereafter.

Mothers’ lives deserve proper regard as well. A pregnancy that may be fatal falls within the Texas exceptions, which go further to include various consequences that could leave the mother disabled or damaged in a number of ways. No one should minimize the trauma of a mother hearing a diagnosis of a doomed pregnancy.

But the option of killing the afflicted baby is unacceptable to a mind and heart that embraces life. Many said that in the Cox case, in view of the dire fate that likely lay ahead, there was barely a life to embrace. The pro-life standard resists compiling a list of lives worth respecting and those that are not. That is a path down a dark road to further pressure from those whose main goal is to weaken Texas law with other exceptions and dispensations.

I have met couples who have walked the anguished road Cox has traveled. Their babies were delivered, loved and afforded dignity for whatever small moment God offered. There was sorrow, but there was no killing. This is what it looks like to respect life. These are the values that Texas reflects in its abortion laws. Cox always had the option of finding a state that does not share those values, and apparently she has done so.

Pro-choice attorneys supposedly harboring her best interests might have suggested that decision as a first strategy instead of a futile effort to erode the protections Texas enshrines in law.

Editor’s note. Mark Davis hosts a morning radio show in Dallas-Fort Worth on 660-AM and at Follow him on Twitter: @markdavis.