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Texas judge blocks private group from invoking new anti-abortion law

By Don Jacobson
Texas judge blocks private group from invoking new anti-abortion law
Anti-abortion activists gather behind the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. on January 29, 2021. File Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo

Sept. 4 (UPI) -- A Texas judge has temporarily prevented a private anti-abortion group from suing medical providers under the provisions of 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.

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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.

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Senate Bill 8, led by Republicans and signed by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott in May, outlaws abortions when a heartbeat is detectable, which is about six weeks into a pregnancy. It will deny the procedure to about 85% of patients who seek it in the state.

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The ban is enforced by members of the public who are able to sue anyone who provides or is involved in aiding and performing abortions barred by SB8, including anyone who drives a patient to the procedure.

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court voted against an emergency petition from abortion providers and advocates to block the law, which U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called a "catastrophe."

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Planned Parenthood hailed Gamble's ruling, which bars Texas Right to Life from bringing lawsuits against it and its Texas employees under S.B. 8's private enforcement provision while litigation against the "unconstitutional law" continues.

"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.

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Thousands attend annual March for Life abortion protest

Thousands participate in {link:the March for Life: "https://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2020/01/24/Trump-says-every-life-worth-protecting-at-March-for-Life-rally/8371579879857/} protest on the National Mall on Friday. Photo by Yuri Gripas/UPI | License Photo

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