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Don’t expect a flood of Texas abortion lawsuits yet

Texas’ new abortion ban has allowed private citizens to enforce restrictive law, prompting them to prosecute anyone (doctors, ride-hailing business drivers, helpful friends) who “help or encourage” someone to do so. abort.

But it’s unlikely that there will be a flood of lawsuits, at least not yet.

Texas’ new law, known as SB 8, is the toughest in the country. It prohibits people from having an abortion after six weeks of pregnancy, even though many do not even know they are pregnant at that time. There are no exceptions for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest.

Private citizens – even people who don’t live in Texas – will receive $ 10,000 and compensation for legal fees if they successfully sue. They also do not face any penalty for filing a frivolous lawsuit.

SB 8 is expected to spawn copycat bills across the country. The Supreme Court recently refused to prevent it from coming into force, although the judges did not rule on the substance of the law.

But on Monday, a Texas state judge issued an injunction against Texas Right to Life, temporarily preventing the anti-abortion group from suing Planned Parenthood as litigation continues to try to block the law permanently. The injunction will be in effect until at least April 2022. CNN noted that there are also temporary restraining orders against other anti-abortion advocates.

Outside of that order, however, Planned Parenthood has stated that it is comply with SB 8 at this time and not to perform abortions when patients are past the sixth week of pregnancy, which even Texas Right to Life admits to be true.

“We are not going to start making complaints ourselves or encouraging others to file complaints until there is evidence that the law is being broken. And we don’t have that evidence at this point, ”said John Seago, chief executive of Texas Right to Life.

Texas Right to Life is leading the Texas process of building a network of attorneys to support cases and potential claimants. The group set up a website to collect online advice on potential SB 8 violations, but it was quickly inundated with bogus submissions from activists on TikTok and others.

Seago said the group has hundreds of lawyers in its network who can be called upon to take on SB 8 cases if necessary.

“We try to make sure that the right types of cases can be worn if they are needed,” he said.

But Texas Right to Life cannot necessarily control who carries a case since any private citizen is permitted to do so under Texas law. And many individuals may be reluctant to do so because of the attention it would give them, especially if this is one of the first cases.

Still, Seago said, there is an effort to manage the process, acknowledging that there will be more scrutiny in the implementation of SB 8.

“Honestly, there is concern that the first cases, if they are necessary … then it is possible that they will get the most attention, and if they are treated badly or if they end up not being proof, that this could, although there is no legally binding precedent, could somehow set the tone for future cases and what the judges are considering, ”Seago said.

Last week, the Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against Texas, saying the state enacted SB 8 “in open disregard of the Constitution.”

According to the pro-choice Guttmacher Institute, nearly 10% of women of reproductive age in the United States live in Texas. In other words, after SB 8, “for 1 in 10 American women aged 15 to 49, Roe [v. Wade] actually doesn’t make sense at the moment.


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