Texas abortion providers announced Tuesday they’d filed a federal lawsuit to block the state’s new abortion ban that allows private individuals to sue anyone helping a woman get an abortion.
The Texas law, which takes effect Sept. 1, not only bans abortion after six weeks of pregnancy but incentivizes private citizens to help enforce it, promising them at least $10,000 if their court challenges are successful, the providers noted.
And even religious leaders who counsel a pregnant woman considering an abortion could be liable, according to the suit filed in Austin by the Center for Reproductive Rights, Planned Parenthood, and the ACLU on behalf of several other groups, the providers stated in a news release.
"If the law takes effect, abortion providers, clinic staff and abortion funds could be saddled with endless lawsuits that consume their time and resources and prevent them from providing health care services, ultimately forcing them to shut down," the Center for Reproductive Rights said in its announcement. "The law will also incentivize anyone who disapproves of a patient’s abortion – a relative, an abusive partner, or even a stranger – to sue the provider and obtain a court order stopping the abortion."
Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, denounced the Texas law, saying it amounts to offering "a bounty on the head of any person or entity who so much as gives a patient money for an abortion after six weeks of pregnancy, before most people know they are pregnant.
"Worse, it will intimidate loved ones from providing support for fear of being sued," she said in her statement.
Marva Sadler, director of clinical services for Whole Woman’s Health which operates four clinics in the state, said she expects to be targeted, the Washington Post reported.
"It’s really, really scary for me to imagine the people we pass through to go to work on a daily basis, who yell at us … now have the authority and ability to sue me at will," Sadler told the Post. "Not only is it an attack on the access, but it absolutely feels like a personal threat as well."
The Post noted similar bans of abortion after a doctor detects a fetal heartbeat — around six weeks of pregnancy — have also been passed in other states, but that federal judges have prevented those measures from taking effect.
But in the new federal challenge, the providers are asking asking a federal judge to prevent any of the state’s trial court judges, potentially more than 1,000 throughout Texas, from enforcing the law and to block court clerks from accepting the lawsuits, the Post reported.
The lawsuit comes in the wake of the nation’s Supreme Court announcing in May that it will review a restrictive Mississippi law, and are expected to reexamine the landmark Roe v. Wade’s decision that guarantees a right to choose an abortion.
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