A Texas doctor who said he violated the state’s new near-total abortion ban faces two lawsuits aiming to test the constitutionality of the law, The New York Times reports.
Texas has implemented a new law designed to circumvent judicial review by having citizens file civil lawsuits to enforce the state’s new six-week abortion ban, before most pregnant women know they are pregnant.
San Antonio physician Dr. Alan Braid said in a Washington Post op-ed on Saturday that he intentionally violated the new law.
“I provided an abortion to a woman who, though still in her first trimester, was beyond the state’s new limit. I acted because I had a duty of care to this patient, as I do for all patients, and because she has a fundamental right to receive this care,” he wrote. “I fully understood that there could be legal consequences — but I wanted to make sure that Texas didn’t get away with its bid to prevent this blatantly unconstitutional law from being tested.”
“I have daughters, granddaughters and nieces,” he wrote. “I believe abortion is an essential part of health care. I have spent the past 50 years treating and helping patients. I can’t just sit back and watch us return to 1972.”
The first lawsuit came from Arkansas man Oscar Stilley, who described himself as a convicted, “disbarred and disgraced” lawyer in his complaint.
Stilley told the Times he’s not trying to stop abortions in Texas but is seeking to test the law.
“I’m not pro-life,” he said. “The thing that I’m trying to vindicate here is the law. We pride ourselves on being a nation of laws. What’s the law?”
“I’m going to get an answer either way,” he added. “If this is a free-for-all, and it’s $10,000, I want my $10,000. And yes, I do aim to collect.”
Illinois man Felipe Gomez also sued Braid, describing himself as a “pro-choice plaintiff” in his complaint.
Pro-life groups unhappy:
Pro-life groups had been satisfied with the law effectively stopping most abortions in the state and worry that the lawsuits could lead to the law being struck down.
“Neither of these lawsuits are valid attempts to save innocent human lives,” John Seago, legislative director for Texas Right to Life, told the TImes. “Both cases are self-serving legal stunts, abusing the cause of action created in the Texas Heartbeat Act for their own purposes.”
Braid is being represented by the Center for Reproductive Rights.
The group’s senior counsel, Marc Hearron, told the Times the Texas law “says that ‘any person’ can sue over a violation, and we are starting to see that happen, including by out-of-state claimants.”