Kate Cox, a Texas mother of two, was thrilled to find out she was pregnant with her third child last year. But the dream of expanding their family quickly turned into a nightmare when Cox and her husband were told that their fetus had an anomaly called trisomy 18 that, in their case, was fatal. It’s a genetic condition that causes significant growth delays, and is usually fatal in utero or shortly after birth; while there are some cases of infants with trisomy 18 surviving past the first year, Cox’s doctors told her that their baby had so much damage to the heart and brain that there was no chance of survival. Continuing the pregnancy would put her own health at risk, and a third delivery could put her future fertility in jeopardy.

But ever since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in 2022, abortion has been almost entirely illegal in Texas, and anybody who performs one can be subject to legal jeopardy. So in December, Cox asked a Texas court for a temporary restraining order to permit her doctor to perform an abortion, becoming the first pregnant woman in the U.S. to sue for the right to terminate her pregnancy since the Dobbs decision. She was represented by the Center for Reproductive Rights, which is also representing 20 other women in Zurawski v. Texas, a landmark lawsuit asking the Texas Supreme Court to clarify the state’s medical exceptions to its abortion ban.

A judge granted Cox the temporary restraining order allowing her to get an abortion, but Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton stood in the way, threatening to prosecute her doctors and petitioning the Texas Supreme Court to weigh in on her case. Cox ended up going to New Mexico to terminate her pregnancy, just as the state Supreme Court blocked the lower court’s ruling allowing her to receive care.

Now, months after her abortion, Kate Cox is ready to talk about her experience. As you’ll hear in our conversation, she’s speaking out about the grim reality for pregnant women in post-Roe America, and she recently attended the State of the Union as one of Jill Biden’s guests. I went down to Dallas to meet Cox in her home to hear her story. And stay tuned for my forthcoming profile of Cox on TIME.com.

Tune in every Thursday, and join us as we continue to explore the minds that shape our world. You can listen to the full episode here, but here are a handful of excerpts from our conversation, which have been condensed and edited for clarity.

On what she thought about abortion before she needed one herself:

I really didn’t think about it much at all. I was very busy with kids and a full-time job. I’ll admit I didn’t follow a lot of politics. It’s not something that I followed closely. I knew that Texas had exceptions and so kind of thought at the time that must mean people that need abortion would be able to get them. I learned that that’s not the case.

I didn’t think about abortion. I wanted a big family. So I just didn’t think it was going to be something that would ever be in my life.

On the medical diagnosis she received and her decision to terminate her pregnancy:

It was the hardest news I’ve ever heard. Essentially, my baby was never going to live. If she survived pregnancy, then she would be placed directly onto hospice.

I’ve had several risks in the pregnancy. But of course, a big one comes down to if I had to deliver the baby through an induction or a third C-section. Induction, because of my recent and repeat C-sections, comes with the risk of uterine rupture. Essentially, your C-section scarring could rip. If that happens, you could be faced with never being able to have kids again.

It’s major surgery and we want more kids. So it was really hard. And then I had other risks. I was in and out of the hospital. At one of my ER visits, they saw fluid inside of my canal and they had to transfer me to another hospital. If the baby died during the pregnancy, there’s risk of infection.

Justin and I made the decision together. It was really painful of course because we wanted our baby so badly. But we didn’t want her to suffer and the risks to me were too high. I also have two other babies and they need their mommy.

So I had to make a decision with all of my babies in mind.

On why she decided to sue for the right to terminate her pregnancy:

I really wanted to be able to have the abortion in my home state, with my doctor and Justin by my side.

I wanted to be here. I wanted to be in my home. I wanted to have my doctors that I trust close by, wanted to be able to come home and hug my babies, and be close to my mom and be able to cry on your own pillow. I think sometimes people underestimate what it takes to go and travel out of state in the middle of a medical event.

It’s the most difficult thing I’ve ever done in my life. I shouldn’t have to go through a court for medical care.


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Write to Charlotte Alter at charlotte.alter@time.com.

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