A Texas judge has temporarily barred a private anti-abortion group from suing medical providers under the state’s new six-week abortion ban.
Travis County District Judge Maya Guerra Gamble on Friday granted a request from abortion providers with Planned Parenthood for a temporary restraining order against Texas Right to Life, preventing it from invoking the state’s new ban against the providers.
In her ruling, Gamble said that the providers faced “probable, irreparable, and imminent injury” if they were sued by the abortion opponents, granting them a temporary victory as private citizens such as Texas Right to Life seek to bring civil suits against anyone who assists a pregnant person seeking an abortion under newly-enacted Senate Bill 8.
“The Court finds that SB 8 creates a probable, irreparable, and imminent injury in the interim for which plaintiffs and their physicians, staff and patients throughout Texas have no adequate remedy at law if plaintiffs, their physicians, and staff are subjected to private enforcement lawsuits against them under SB 8,” Gamble wrote.
Senate Bill 8, sponsored by Republicans and signed into law by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott in May, makes abortion illegal when a heartbeat can be detected, which is around six weeks into a pregnancy. It will refuse the surgery to approximately 85 percent of individuals who apply for it in the state.
The restriction is enforced by members of the public who can sue anyone who provides or assists in the assistance and conducting of abortions prohibited by SB8, including anyone who drives a patient to the procedure.
The Supreme Court decided on Wednesday against an emergency appeal from abortion providers and activists seeking to halt the law, which U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi described as a “catastrophe.”
Planned Parenthood applauded Gamble’s decision, which prevents Texas Right to Life from suing it and its Texas employees under S.B. 8’s private enforcement clause while litigation against the “unconstitutional law” is ongoing.
“We are relieved that the Travis County district court has acted quickly to grant this restraining order against Texas Right to Life and anyone working with them as deputized enforcers of this draconian law,” Planned Parenthood Federation of America Vice President Helene Krasnoff said in a statement.
“This restraining order offers protection to the brave health care providers and staff at Planned Parenthood health centers throughout Texas, who have continued to offer care as best they can within the law while facing surveillance, harassment, and threats from vigilantes eager to stop them,” she said.