A San Antonio doctor is the first Texas abortion provider to be sued by citizens after he said he performed an abortion days after the state’s new “heartbeat bill” went into effect.
Dr. Alan Braid revealed in a Washington Post opinion column that he had performed an abortion on Sept. 6. He was the first abortion provider to publicly reveal he violated the law that took effect on Sept. 1.
The restriction can only be enforced by private lawsuits, so it was up to private citizens to decide if they wanted to pursue legal action. Two former lawyers from Arkansas and Illinois decided to take the first step.
Oscar Stilley, a former lawyer who lost his law license after being convicted of tax fraud in 2010, said he sued Braid to push for a court review of Texas’ anti-law. He stated that he is not personally opposed to abortion himself.
Stilley spoke with The Associated Press about his decision to sue, saying, “I don’t want doctors out there nervous and sitting there and quaking in their boots and saying, ‘I can’t do this because if this thing works out, then I’m going to be bankrupt.'”
Felipe N. Gomez asked a San Antonio court to declare the new law unconstitutional. For him, the law is an example of government overreach. He stated he wants Texas Republicans to be held accountable, adding that their response to the pandemic conflicts with their regulations on abortions.
“If Republicans are going to say nobody can tell you to get a shot they shouldn’t tell women what to do with their bodies either,” Gomez said. “I think they should be consistent.”
The controversial law that went into effect in September is the most restrictive abortion law in the nation. Under its regulations, abortion is banned if a fetal heartbeat can be detected, usually around the six week mark. Critics say that it is essentially a “de facto ban on all abortions” as many women don’t even realize they’re pregnant until after six weeks. You can view our explainer of the bill here.
Both lawyers have stated they are not opposed to abortions, but rather want to challenge the state’s legality of the ban. Braid’s admission coupled with the lawsuits lead legal experts to believe the Supreme Court will review the law after they have remained silent against it.
In the meantime, Texas Right to Life, the state’s largest anti-abortion group, has said it had attorneys ready to bring forward additional lawsuits against abortion providers. But a spokeswoman for the group said abortion providers appear to be complying with the law.