Texas doctor who defied state’s new abortion ban is sued | Texas News


By JAMIE STENGLE, Associated Press

DALLAS (AP) – A San Antonio doctor who said he performed an abortion in defiance of a new Texas law almost dared supporters of the state’s near-total ban on the procedure to try and do him an early example by filing a lawsuit – and by Monday, two people obligated.

Former Arkansas and Illinois lawyers on Monday filed separate lawsuits against Dr Alan Braid, who, in a Washington Post opinion column, became the first Texas abortion provider to publicly reveal that he had violated the law which came into force on September 1.

They both edged out the state’s largest anti-abortion group, which said it had lawyers ready to take legal action. None of the ex-lawyers who filed the complaint said they were anti-abortion. But both said the courts should weigh in.

Texas law prohibits abortions once healthcare professionals can detect heart activity, which is typically around six weeks, and before some women even know they are pregnant. Prosecutors cannot initiate criminal proceedings against Braid, as the law explicitly prohibits it. The only way the ban can be enforced is through lawsuits brought by private citizens, who do not have to be from Texas and who are entitled to claim at least $ 10,000 in damages in the event. of success.

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Oscar Stilley, who described himself in court documents as a disgraced former lawyer who lost his lawyer’s license after being convicted of tax evasion in 2010, said he was not opposed to the abortion but that he had sued to force a judicial review of Texas anti-abortion law, what he called a “end of the race.”

“I don’t want the doctors to be nervous and sit there and shake in their boots and say, ‘I can’t do this because if it works then I’m going to go bankrupt,'” Stilley, from Cedarville, Arkansas, near from the Oklahoma border, told The Associated Press.

Felipe N. Gomez, of Chicago, has asked a San Antonio court in his lawsuit to declare the new law unconstitutional. In his view, the law is a form of government overrun. He said his trial was a way to hold Republicans who run Texas accountable, adding that their lax public health response during the COVID-19 pandemic conflicted with their crackdown on abortion rights.

“If Republicans say no one can tell you to get the vaccine, they shouldn’t be telling women what to do with their bodies, either,” Gomez said. “I think they should be consistent.”

Gomez said he didn’t know he could claim up to $ 10,000 in damages if he wins his case. If he received the money, Gomez said, he would likely donate it to an abortion rights group or the patients of the doctor he sued.

Legal experts say Braid’s admission is likely to set up yet another test of whether the law can stand after the Supreme Court allows it to come into force.

“Being sued puts him in a position… that he will be able to defend the action against him by saying the law is unconstitutional,” said Carol Sanger, professor of law at Columbia University in New York. York.

Braid wrote that on September 6, he performed an abortion on a woman who was still in her first trimester but beyond the new state limit.

“I fully understood that there could be legal consequences – but I wanted to make sure Texas didn’t get away with its attempt to prevent this blatantly unconstitutional law from being tested,” Braid wrote.

Two federal lawsuits were already pending in the courts regarding the law, known as Senate Bill 8. In one, filed by abortion providers and others, the Supreme Court refused to prevent the law from coming into force while the case progresses Legal System. It is still pending before the 5th United States Court of Appeals. In the second case, the Ministry of Justice asks a federal judge to declare the law invalid, arguing that it was promulgated “in open disregard of the Constitution”.

The Center for Reproductive Rights, one of the plaintiffs in the first federal lawsuit, represents Braid.

Lead attorney for the center, Marc Hearron, noted in a statement that Texas law “says” any person “can sue for a violation, and we are starting to see this happening, including by claimants outside of Canada. the State “.

Braid could not be immediately reached for comment on Monday. His clinic referred interview requests to the center.

Texas Right to Life, the state’s largest anti-abortion group, criticized both the lawsuits and Braid’s opinion column.

“None of these lawsuits is a valid attempt to save innocent human lives,” the group said. “We believe Braid published his editorial with the intention of attracting reckless lawsuits, but none are from the Pro-Life movement.”

Texas Right to Life has launched a website to receive advice on alleged violations, although it is currently redirected to the group’s home page. A spokesperson for the group noted that the website is mostly symbolic because anyone can report a violation and because abortion providers appear to be complying with the law.

Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s office did not immediately return a message asking for comment on Monday.

Joanna Grossman, a law professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, said if a lawsuit against Braid comes to the Texas Supreme Court, that court could decide whether the legislature has exceeded its powers by allowing anyone to sue.

“The Texas Supreme Court will have the opportunity / obligation to say whether this approach – which would not be limited to abortion – is an acceptable way for the legislature to pursue its goals,” Grossman said.

Seth Chandler, a law professor at the University of Houston, said anyone bringing a lawsuit “should persuade a Texas court that they have standing” although they have not personally suffered any harm. pecuniary or material.

Braid said in the Post column that he began his obstetrics and gynecology residency at a San Antonio hospital on July 1, 1972, when abortion was “effectively illegal in Texas.” That year he saw three teenagers die of illegal abortions, he wrote.

In 1973, the United States Supreme Court released its Roe v. Wade, who established a national abortion right any time before a fetus can survive outside the womb, usually around 24 weeks.

“I have daughters, granddaughters and nieces,” Braid wrote. “I believe abortion is an essential part of health care. I have spent the past 50 years caring for and helping patients. I cannot sit idly by and watch us go back to 1972.”

Associated Press editors Jake Bleiberg and Adam Kealoha Causey in Dallas and Andrew DeMillo in Little Rock, Arkansas, contributed to this report.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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