Abortion groups sue Texas law that allows citizens to sue abortion providers

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Top line

Planned Parenthood and other abortion advocacy groups sued Texas on Tuesday over a new law banning abortion after detection of fetal heart activity and forcing citizens to enforce the law through civil lawsuits, part of a larger wave of new state-level abortion restrictions that may soon take effect if the United States Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade.

Highlights

The Texas Heartbeat Act, known as SB 8, prohibits abortions that take place after a fetal heartbeat has been detected, usually around six weeks after the onset of a pregnancy, with the exception of cases of medical emergency.

The law says the government cannot punish those who “help and encourage” an abortion, but rather states that anyone, except government officials, can bring civil suits against abortion providers or anyone. who “knowingly engages in conduct that aids or encourages” an abortion, and may be awarded $ 10,000 in damages if the lawsuit is successful.

Whole Woman’s Health, Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers, as well as doctors and clergymen – who could be sued under SB 8 if they counsel people who are undergoing abortions – the prosecutor sued. Texas Ken Paxton and various Texas medical and legal officials in a campaign to prevent the law from coming into force in September.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court, argues that SB8 will “harass” abortion providers and potentially bankrupt them through costly litigation, alleging that the law “will force abortion providers and other people being sued to spend an enormous amount of time and money defending themselves in lawsuits across the state in which gambling is heavily stacked against them.

The law and its threat of “law enforcement prosecutions” violate the Fourteenth Amendment and the First Amendment, complainants say, saying preventing clergy and abortion advocates from counseling those who have abortions or to conduct public education efforts with the threat of legal action “weighs down the discourse and expressive conduct of complainants”.

Paxton’s office has yet to respond to a request for comment on the litigation.

Crucial quote

“Texas lawmakers have tried for years to completely – and unconstitutionally – ban abortion. Now they’re trying a new tactic: give complete strangers the power to sue anyone who proposes or helps someone to have an abortion, ”Planned Parenthood President and CEO Alexis McGill Johnson said in a statement. on the dispute. “This new law would open the floodgates for frivolous lawsuits designed to bankrupt health facilities, harass providers and isolate patients from anyone who would treat them compassionately as they seek health care. Cruelty is the point – and we won’t let it sit. “

Large number

Over 80%. This is the percentage of abortions performed in Texas that would soon be blocked if SB 8 goes into effect, as predicted by the Texas Policy Evaluation Project at the University of Texas at Austin.

Chief critic

In a statement sent by email to Forbes Texas Right to Life chief executive John Seago on Wednesday said the anti-abortion organization “still [has] utmost confidence in the innovative legal strategy and carefully crafted nature of SB 8 “and said they” fully believe “that the law” will ultimately be upheld and save countless unborn lives. “

Key context

The Texas law is part of a nationwide wave of abortion restrictions imposed by lawmakers in Republican states, with abortion advocacy group Guttmacher Institute reporting 90 abortion restrictions that were already enacted in 2021 in 1st of July. under the 1973 Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade and outright abortion bans have generally been overturned by the courts in light of the ruling, GOP lawmakers have passed abortion restrictions in a bid to spark legal challenges that the Supreme Court trending conservative could use to overthrow Roe. This could soon happen when the High Court hears a challenge to the Mississippi abortion ban, which will consider whether all bans on abortion before a fetus is viable are permitted by federal law and could weaken or overturn Roe if the judges rule in favor of Mississippi. The move would have a substantial impact in Texas, where lawmakers also recently passed an “induction ban” that would criminalize abortion if Roe was canceled.

Further reading

Texas bans abortion as early as six weeks (Forbes)

Texas lawmakers decide to make abortion a felony if Roe V. Wade is called off (Forbes)

Texas City Allowed to Become Anti-Abortion ‘Sanctuary City’ As Federal Judge Dismisses Planned Parenthood Challenge (Forbes)

Supreme Court to review Mississippi abortion ban that could challenge Roe V. Wade (Forbes)

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