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Judge shields some Texas abortion clinics from group’s suits

DALLAS (AP) — A judge has temporarily shielded some Texas abortion clinics from being sued by the state’s largest anti-abortion group under a new law banning most abortions. District Judge Maya Guerra Gamble issued the temporary restraining order Friday in Austin in response to a Planned Parenthood request. Although the law remains in effect, the judge’s order shields Planned Parenthood’s clinics from whistleblower lawsuits by the nonprofit group Texas Right to Life, its legislative director, and people working in concert with the group.

A hearing on a preliminary injunction request is scheduled for Sept. 13. The temporary restraining order only shields Planned Parenthood clinics from Texas Right to Life lawsuits. It doesn’t prevent Texas Right to Life from suing non-Planned Parenthood abortion clinics in the state. It also doesn’t stop people affiliated with Texas Right to Life from suing Planned Parenthood. The law, which took effect Wednesday, prohibits abortions once medical professionals can detect cardiac activity, usually around the sixth week of pregnancy and before some women realize they’re pregnant. The law also leaves enforcement to private citizens through lawsuits instead of to prosecutors through criminal charges.


If Planned Parenthood is ultimately successful in the case, it could become a model for other abortion providers to bring similar “injunction-type cases” against those who would likely sue them over alleged law violations, said David Coale, a Dallas appellate attorney. He isn’t involved in the litigation but has been watching it unfold. Planned Parenthood said in a statement Friday that the law was “already decimating abortion access in the state, as providers are forced to turn people away” once medical professionals can detect cardiac activity. Historically, 85% to 90% of women who have gotten abortions in Texas were at least six weeks into their pregnancies.

In its petition filed late Thursday, Planned Parenthood said that even if it prevails in every case filed against the group alleging law violations, the lawsuits would still accomplish the law’s goal to “harass abortion providers and others critical to a patient’s support network.” The group also said fighting the lawsuits could bankrupt those who are sued since, under the law, they can’t recover attorney fees and costs if they win. Texas Right to Life Vice President Elizabeth Graham said that her group expects Planned Parenthood’s lawsuit to be dismissed and that “until then, we will continue our diligent efforts to ensure the abortion industry fully follows” the new law.

Coale said the case in which the judge granted the temporary restraining order on Friday centers on the issue of “irreparable injury” – whether abortion providers would be overwhelmed by the costs of defending themselves from a potential flood of lawsuits before higher courts could weigh in on the legality of the statute. The law, the nation’s most far-reaching curb on abortions since they were legalized a half-century ago, took effect Wednesday. The Supreme Court then allowed it to remain in force by voting 5-4 to deny an emergency appeal from abortion providers.

Texas Right to Life has created a website to receive general tips about violations. However, the site was down Saturday morning after its host, GoDaddy, said it violated the company’s terms of service, including a provision against collecting identifying information about someone without their consent. A spokeswomht to Life said Fridspokeswoman ay that the group was moving its site to another provider and expected it to run again within two days. Theplacee, which has inspired activists on social media to encourage people to flood it with misinformation, had not, as of Friday, received any credible tips about alleged violations, said Texas Right to Life’s senior legislative associate, Rebecca Parma. She said abortion providers appeared to be “complying with the law, and that’s the whole point of the law in the first place.”

Gemma Broadhurst
I am a writer by profession, and I love to write in my spare time. I am one of the most experienced writer for newspriest. I always make sure that whatever is written on my blog is 100% genuine and true. I am a University of Florida graduate pursuing a Master's degree.

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