At least 20 cases have been filed by various groups over a newly-signed law imposing restrictions on abortion on pregnancies beyond two weeks.
The Anti-Abortion Law was signed by Governor Greg Abbott two months ago.
Filing cases before the US District Court for Western District of Texas were abortion providers, who particularly opposed a provision on the law which allows private individuals to sue them for abortions done after six weeks of pregnancy.
Attorney General Ken Paxton, Texas Board of Nursing Executive Director Katherine A. Thomas, and Texas Health and Human Services Commission Executive Commissioner Cecile Erwin Young were named defendants in the lawsuit.
According to Marc Hearron in his capacity as senior counsel for the Center for Reproductive Rights, the controversial provision may compromise the abortion clinics which he said could become subjects of harassment and possible closure amid what he claimed as “endless lawsuits.”
Expressing concern over the law, Hearron said that it allows random strangers or anti-abortion activists to sue and interfere with the patient’s decision. He also said that these people may even try to “hijack” the courts for their ideological agenda.
According to Hearron, if the law isn’t blocked it would set a truly dangerous precedent as states could eviscerate their own citizens’ constitutional rights by creating a private lawsuit to do what their own officials couldn’t do.
The new law strictly prohibits any abortion procedure for pregnancies beyond two weeks. However, dissenters say that the period in which abortion is allowed is not even enough to conclude one’s pregnancy.
According to Whole Woman’s Health Alliance, 85% of those who obtain abortions in Texas are at least six weeks into their pregnancy.
Calling the current period, “dark days,” Amy Hagstrom Miller, WWHA executive director, said: “We’ve beaten back these attacks before. We can and we will do it again.”
“It’s easy to feel like the extremists in the Texas Legislature are running the table,” she added.
The new law took down the responsibility for enforcement from state officials and allowed Texans to sue providers, whom they find defying state abortion laws.
Interestingly, part of the new anti-abortion measure guarantees a minimum of $10,000 in damages for Texans who’d be able to prove in court their allegations against an abortion provider. Moreover, the law stipulates that a plaintiff need not have a link to an abortion provider or a person seeking an abortion or even reside in Texas.
Even before Governor Abbott signed the anti-abortion law, a federal judge in Lubbock dismissed a case filed by a group urging the court to void a city ordinance that bans abortions and empowers “the unborn child’s mother, father, siblings, half-siblings and grandparents” to sue for anyone who helps another person get an abortion. According to the magistrate, the plaintiff does not have a legal basis to sue the city.
The law is set to come into force on Sept. 1. During the regular legislative session, almost all Republican lawmakers signed onto Senate Bill 8, as authors or sponsors of the measure.