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Biden extends State of the Union invitation to a Texas woman who sued to get an abortion and lost

President Joe Biden is joined on stage by first lady Jill Biden at an event on the campus of George Mason University in Manassas, Va., Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024, to campaign for abortion rights, a top issue for Democrats in the upcoming presidential election. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden have extended an invitation to attend the State of the Union address to a Texas woman who sued her state and lost over the ability to get an abortion to end a wanted pregnancy.

The Texas Supreme Court denied Katie Cox’s request. But by then, her lawyers said, she had already traveled out of state for an abortion.

The Bidens spoke with Cox on Sunday and invited her to the annual address set for March 7 at the U.S. Capitol. Cox will sit with the first lady, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Wednesday. Cox accepted the invitation, she said.

“They thanked her for her courage in sharing her story and speaking out against the impact of the extreme abortion ban in Texas,” Jean-Pierre said.

Cox, 31, was pregnant with her third child when she learned the baby had a rare genetic disorder. The couple was informed by doctors that their baby would live at best a week. She sued over the right to have an abortion to end the pregnancy but lost because the judges said she hadn't shown her life was in danger enough to be granted the procedure.

The White House invitation reflects how strongly the administration is leaning into reproductive rights as a galvanizing force for voters in the upcoming presidential election after the Supreme Court in 2022 overturned abortion protections. Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris and their spouses on Tuesday centered their first major campaign rally of the election year on abortion rights.

Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, which represented Cox in her legal fight, applauded the invitation and said when Cox travels to Washington “she will be representing thousands of others suffering under draconian state abortion bans.”

In his speech, Biden spoke about the increased medical challenges women are facing since the fall of the legal protections granted in Roe v. Wade, particularly for women who never intended to end their pregnancies. He laid the blame on Republican frontrunner Donald Trump, who as president appointed three conservative justices to the Supreme Court.

This will be the first State of the Union under Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson, who will sit behind the president and to his left during the address to Congress. This year’s speech will offer an opportunity for Biden to detail his broader vision and policy priorities as he campaigns for reelection in November.