US Judge Temporarily Blocks Texas Pro-Life Group From Enforcing New Abortion Ban
© AP Photo / Brennan LinsleyA gavel
© AP Photo / Brennan Linsley
Texas' newly signed legislation is considered one of the most restrictive abortion bans implemented since the 1973 passage of Roe v. Wade, which determined that state laws banning abortions were unconstitutional.
A Texas state judge provided a narrow win to abortion providers on Friday after enforcing a temporary restraining order against a pro-life group and its associates, effectively preventing the anti-abortion groups from enforcing the state's six-week abortion ban.
The ruling of District Judge Maya Guerra Gamble in Austin, Texas, offers a temporary reprieve from whistleblower lawsuits allowed under Texas' S.B.8. It specifically places a halt on suits from Texas Right to Life, the nonprofit group's legislative director and 100 other unidentified individuals.
The order was filed by Planned Parenthood South Texas Surgical Center, Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas Surgical Health Services, Planned Parenthood Center for Choice, and Planned Parenthood Center for Choice abortion provider Dr. Bhavik Kumar.
“The Court finds that S.B. 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 S.B.8,” Gamble wrote in her three-page ruling.
"The Court further finds that granting this request preserves the status quo preceding this controversy and follows precedent from the Supreme Court of Texas."
Planned Parenthood has praised the ruling.
"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," Helene Krasnoff, who serves as vice president for public policy litigation and law with the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in 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."
"But make no mistake: this is not enough relief for Texas. Planned Parenthood will continue fighting for the millions of Texans affected by S.B. 8., doing everything we can under the law to restore Texans’ federal constitutional right to access abortion," she concluded.
A preliminary injunction hearing on the matter is scheduled for September 13, with Gamble's order set to expire on September 17.
Uber, Lyft to Cover Legal Fees of Any Drivers Sued Over Texas Law
The Friday development came on the heels of reports indicating that ride-sharing giants Lyft and Uber would both be covering the legal fees for drivers who are sued under Texas' restrictive abortion law.
"Drivers are never responsible for monitoring where their riders go or why. Imagine being a driver and not knowing if you are breaking the law by giving someone a ride," Lyft said in a release.
"Similarly, riders never have to justify, or even share, where they are going and why. Imagine being a pregnant woman trying to get to a healthcare appointment and not knowing if your driver will cancel on you for fear of breaking a law. Both are completely unacceptable."
© REUTERS / Steven SenneA passer-by pulls luggage while walking past a sign offering directions to an Uber and Lyft ride pickup location at Logan International Airport, in Boston, Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2021. Businesses like Uber, Airbnb and Square were born in recessions. Now, the effects of COVID-19 are forcing existing businesses to reinvent themselves, and some of today's most significant business obstacles will spark new startups offering innovative solutions. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
A passer-by pulls luggage while walking past a sign offering directions to an Uber and Lyft ride pickup location at Logan International Airport, in Boston, Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2021. Businesses like Uber, Airbnb and Square were born in recessions. Now, the effects of COVID-19 are forcing existing businesses to reinvent themselves, and some of today's most significant business obstacles will spark new startups offering innovative solutions. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
The announcement also saw Lyft vow to donate $1 million to Planned Parenthood.
A similar effort was subsequently aired by Uber, whose CEO Dara Khosrowshahi tweeted that "drivers shouldn't be put at risk for getting people where they want to go."
While Texas' legislation does not allow lawsuits to be filed against patients, it does allow for suits against individuals who are aiding in the procedure, which would include doctors, clinic workers and rideshare drivers for offering rides to the clinic. Offenders could be fined some $10,000.
The Texas law was signed by Texas Gov. Gregg Abbott (R) in May, however, it took effect on Wednesday. The US Supreme Court later stunned many after it turned down an emergency request from abortion providers to block the initiative in a 5-4 vote.