Texas anti-abortion group Right to Life was defeated in a Texas court on Friday. The group is temporarily banned from suing Planned Parenthood employees in Texas under the new abortion law.
Planned Parenthood, a health organization that runs abortion clinics, sued an anti-abortion group to prevent the group from using aspects of the new Texas abortion ban against them.
Planned Parenthood in particular challenged the most unusual aspect of the law: any citizen could sue a potential violator of the abortion ban. The law defines potential offenders very broadly, which means that, for example, a person who schedules an appointment to perform an abortion for a pregnant woman, escorts her to an abortion clinic or pays for the procedure can be charged.
Travis County District Court Judge Maya Guerra Gamble said the contested aspect of Texas’ abortion law creates “potential, irreparable and imminent harm” to Planned Parenthood, doctors, staff and patients across Texas. The judge also ruled that the law did not adequately protect abortion providers such as Planned Parenthood from the harm they would incur if they were constantly sued by citizens.
Texas Right to Life, which announced it would appeal the ruling, suffered another setback on Friday. The group operates a website, prolifewhistleblower.com, where citizens can leave anonymous advice about people who aid or encourage abortion. Web host provider GoDaddy has indicated that it no longer wishes to host this website because it is in violation of the web host’s terms of service.
Under these terms, users are not allowed to collect information about people without their consent. Texas Right to Life said in a statement that it will not be silenced. “Our IT team is already working on transferring our assets to another provider and we will restore the site within 48 hours. Come soon,” the group said.
Texas’ new abortion law has drawn heavy criticism, including from US President Joe Biden. He talks about an “undeniable violation” of constitutional rights. And Biden argues that allowing citizens, like whistleblowers, to sue anyone who would have helped someone else have an abortion. This may even include family members, health care workers, clinic receptionists, or strangers unrelated to the individual.
Advocacy groups have attempted to ban abortion in Texas after six weeks of pregnancy in the Supreme Court, but to no avail. On Wednesday, the court voted against the organisations’ emergency request. They say the law will make abortion impossible for at least 85 percent of Texas women who want the procedure.
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