A Texas doctor has been sued for breaching the state’s new abortion laws, which may be a test of the lawfulness of the requirement.
Alan Braid, writing for the Washington Post, stated he had performed a termination on a lady who was early in her pregnancy but “beyond the state’s new limit.”
On Monday, he was sued by former attorneys in Arkansas and Illinois.
Abortions are now illegal as early as six weeks into a pregnancy under the new law.
The law took effect on September 1st, allowing anybody – from Texas or abroad – to sue doctors who perform abortions beyond the six-week mark. It does not, however, permit the women who undergo the operation to be sued.
The legislation prohibits abortions after the discovery of a foetal heartbeat, a concept used by anti-abortion activists but dismissed by medical experts.
“I acted because I had a duty of care to this patient, as I do for all patients, and because she had a fundamental right to get this treatment,” Dr. Braid, who has been practicing medicine for almost 50 years, said in an opinion essay published over the weekend.
“I well realized that there may be legal ramifications,” he said, “but I wanted to make sure that Texas didn’t get away with its attempt to keep this obviously illegal statute from being challenged.”
Oscar Stilley, a former Arkansas lawyer who is currently serving a 15-year federal sentence in home confinement for tax fraud, said he decided to bring the case after reading Dr. Braid’s opinion post. He said that he was not anti-abortion, but that he was suing to force a court to rule on the new legislation’s constitutionality.
He argued the new limitations violate women’s constitutional rights in an interview with the Reuters news agency.
Felipe Gomez of Illinois filed a second complaint, describing himself as a “Pro Choice Plaintiff” and claiming that the legislation was “illegal as worded and as applied.”
The cases are the first known legal challenges to the law, which is one of the most stringent in the country. Dr. Braid has not commented on them.
In May, Republican Governor Greg Abbott signed the “Heartbeat Act” into law. After the Supreme Court did not reply to an emergency appeal by abortion providers, it went into force.
The US Justice Department filed an emergency request earlier this month, seeking to halt implementation of the legislation while it takes legal action.
Abortion providers argue that the rule contradicts the 1973 Supreme Court ruling Roe v Wade, which established a woman’s right to an abortion until the baby is viable, or capable of surviving outside the womb. This generally happens between weeks 22 and 24 of a pregnancy.
The legislation takes an unusual method to enforcing its prohibition: it allows any private individual to sue anybody who “aides and abets” an unlawful abortion.
People who successfully suit under Texas law will be paid at least $10,000 (£7,200), plus any legal expenses.
Critics, like as the American Civil Liberties Union, argue that this places the burden of proof on people rather than municipal or state government, perhaps leading to abortion “bounty hunters.”