Fox News buried the story of a Texas woman prevented from getting an emergency abortion

The right-wing network refused to address the consequences of its anti-abortion rhetoric, with one prime-time show focusing on a supposed feminist assault on “tradwives”

Fox News has barely covered the story of Kate Cox, a Texas woman who sought to terminate her pregnancy due to the fetus’s fatal diagnosis but had her court-ordered emergency abortion halted after Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton petitioned the Texas Supreme Court. Instead, one Fox show opted to cover a supposed “attack” on “tradwives,” with host Jesse Watters dedicating a segment of his coveted 8 p.m. slot to the topic.

  • The Texas Supreme Court overturned a ruling granting Cox an exception to the state’s draconian abortion ban

    On December 5, Cox filed a lawsuit in Texas for an emergency court-ordered abortion “to protect her health, life, and future fertility.” Cox, who was 20 weeks pregnant at the time the suit was filed, sought the abortion after her fetus was diagnosed with trisomy 18 and “had no chance of survival.” In addition, the lawsuit detailed how Cox had visited three different emergency rooms in the past month with “severe cramping and unidentifiable fluid leaks” and was “at high risk for many serious medical conditions that pose risks to her future fertility and can become suddenly and unexpectedly life-threatening” if she did not undergo an abortion. The suit also included a recommendation from Cox’s OB-GYN, who stated they have a “good faith” belief that Cox should be exempted from the ban.

    Texas’ current abortion ban restricts all abortions after six weeks, a period during which pregnancy would mostly not even be able to be detected, effectively banning all abortions. The ban makes narrow exceptions for “medical emergency” cases where the pregnancy “places the woman in danger of death or a serious risk of substantial impairment of a major bodily function unless an abortion is performed."

    The lawsuit articulates that Texas’ abortion law is inconsistent, causing confusion over which pregnancies qualify for an exception. The December 7 district court ruling allowed Cox to legally terminate her pregnancy. Paxton responded to the ruling by writing that Cox had failed to demonstrate she has a “life-threatening” medical condition related to the pregnancy that puts her “at risk of death” or major bodily harm, warning doctors they could be liable for civil and criminal penalties for providing Cox an abortion, and petitioning for intervention from the Texas Supreme Court. The following day, the court temporarily blocked Cox from receiving an abortion and, on December 11, reversed the district court’s ruling. In the opinion, the court argued that “some difficulties in pregnancy … even serious ones, do not pose the heightened risks to the mother the exception encompasses.” By the time of the ruling, Cox had already left Texas to have the abortion out of state.

  • Fox News barely covered Cox’s story

    Fox News practically buried Cox’s story, despite wide reporting from mainstream media. Fox host Pete Hegseth briefly mentioned it on Fox & Friends Weekend during a “Headlines” segment listing major national news stories; chief political anchor Bret Baier took the same approach, devoting only about 30 seconds of airtime to the story during the prime-time “hard news” show Special Report; and a panel guest on weekend show Fox News Live brought it up during a discussion about the 2024 election.

    Sean Hannity gave the most coverage to the story — but not during his prime-time Fox News show. Hannity discussed Cox’s legal fight on his radio show, arguing that her case is “definitely the exception” to Texas’ draconian abortion ban.

    “This is certainly an outlier. This is not your average case,” the Fox host said.

    However, Hannity was primarily concerned with how stories like Cox’s (and hardline anti-abortion stances in general) affect Republicans’ electability. Hannity also brought up the late-term abortion red herring, complaining that Democrats “never want to answer” the question of whether third-trimester abortions should be banned outright.

  • Fox News gave airtime to a supposed “attack” on tradwives while the real attack on Cox played out

    Instead of covering Texas’ attempt at forced birth, Fox News’ Jesse Watters devoted an entire segment of his 8 p.m. broadcast to the supposed feminist assault on “tradwives”-- women who subscribe to “traditional” gender roles within marriage, often invoking the aesthetic of the 1950s housewife and romanticizing submissiveness to men. Tradwife content on social media — and the broader “trad” movement itself — has been linked to right-wing and white-supremacist ideology.

    In the segment, Watters blamed the media and unhappy feminists for criticizing tradwives before interviewing Estee Williams, a popular tradwife TikToker. Williams offered a disclaimer regarding women who choose to have a career, but she also agreed with Watters’ framing, arguing: “The traditional housewife is kind of under attack right now because of feminism and definitely the 1950s housewife narrative."