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Poll Shows Most Americans Disapprove of Texas Denying Kate Cox an Abortion

Polls within Texas also show that state voters disagree with its burdensome abortion restrictions.

The Texas state capitol building in Austin, Texas.

A new poll shows that the vast majority of Americans, including Republican-leaning voters, disapprove of the state of Texas’s decision to deny an abortion to a woman whose fetus was unviable and who could have lost the ability to become pregnant again if she didn’t obtain the procedure.

Kate Cox, who was denied an abortion by the Texas state Supreme Court, had to flee the state and obtain the procedure elsewhere after her fetus was diagnosed with Trisomy 18, a fatal condition for fetuses that results in either a miscarriage or the birth of a child who dies within hours.

People whose fetuses are diagnosed with Trisomy 18 often lose the ability to become pregnant again, and Cox, before requesting that a lower state court allow her to have an abortion, had been hospitalized four times due to difficulties during her pregnancy.

The lower court granted Cox the ability to get an abortion, but the state Supreme Court placed a stay on that ruling, preventing her from undergoing the procedure. As a result, Cox left the state to get an abortion legally elsewhere; soon after, the state Supreme Court ruled that her reproductive rights — which are recognized elsewhere around the world as human rights — were superseded by Texas state law, and that she and people in similar situations couldn’t get an abortion in the state. The ruling was made in spite of a Texas law stating that abortions should be allowed if there is a possibility that a pregnancy can result in “substantial impairment of major bodily function.”

While human rights, including abortion, shouldn’t be subject to how the majority of a population feels about them, poll after poll after poll shows that Americans support abortion rights, and disapprove of the federal Supreme Court ruling in 2022 that overturned nationwide abortion protections. In a new Data for Progress survey that asked specifically about Cox’s situation, the vast majority of Americans condemned the decision to bar her from having an abortion.

The poll, which was conducted from December 15-17 (after Cox had already obtained an abortion), specifically asked if she “should or should not be allowed” to undergo the procedure. The survey found that 83 percent of Americans believe she should have been allowed to get an abortion, while just 11 percent said the state was justified in barring her from having one.

Even among partisans, there was agreement that Cox’s rights had been violated. Nearly three-quarters (74 percent) of Republican respondents said that she should have been allowed to get an abortion, with only 17 percent saying she shouldn’t have. Ninety percent of Democrats said Cox should have been allowed to obtain the procedure, with 84 percent of independents agreeing.

The poll indicates that Americans widely agree that abortion bans like those in Texas (as well as those in other states) are too restrictive.

Polling strictly within Texas shows that most in the state agree that Cox and people facing similar situations should be allowed to get an abortion, and that the Lone Star state’s laws are too restrictive overall. A University of Houston poll published early in 2023 found that 84 percent of Texans backed allowing abortions in the event of fetal anomalies, with 82 percent agreeing that an abortion should be allowed if a pregnant person’s future health (not just their life) was at risk. The poll also found that half of all Texans (52 percent) believe current laws should be changed to expand abortion access.

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