Planned Parenthood had filed a lawsuit seeking to challenge the city’s voter-approved law, which would let people sue anyone who helps a relative have an abortion.
A federal judge will not issue an injunction against a referendum-approved abortion ban in the city of Lubbock, Texas.
The Texas Tribune reports that, while Planned Parenthood had filed a lawsuit against the abortion ordinance, a district judge determined the organization did not have proper standing to sue the city.
According to the Texas Tribune, the judge’s decision comes mere weeks after Planned Parenthood lodged its complaint against Lubbock. The city, notes the Tribune, recently enacted a law which outlaws abortions and permits “the unborn child’s mother, father, grandparents, siblings and half-siblings” to sue for damages anyone who helps an individual access abortion services.
“Due to the controversial ordinance passed on May 1, Lubbock residents are currently required to travel to access a safe, legal abortion. This ban on abortions provides no exemptions, even in cases of rape and incest. The ban on abortion violates patients’ constitutional right to an abortion and we’re in court to block this ban for Lubbock patients,” Texas Planned Parenthood President and CEO Ken Lambrecht said last month.
Interestingly, the “sanctuary city for the unborn” ordinance was originally rejected by the Lubbock City Council, which found the prohibition would conflict with state law and likely cost the city big money to defend. However, the ordinance was then passed on to voters, who approved the measure in May.
In his ruling, Judge James Wesley Hendrix found that the law’s contours make it difficult for Planned Parenthood to bring its complaint to federal court. After all, while Lubbock does outlaw abortion services, the penalty for violating the statute is not enforced by the city—rather, private citizens are empowered to file lawsuits against individuals or entities which facilitate access to abortion services.
“Because the ability to remedy a plaintiff’s injury through a favorable decision is a prerequisite to a plaintiff’s standing to sue—an ability absent here—the Court dismisses the case for lack of jurisdiction,” Hendrix wrote in his ruling.
The Texas Tribune notes that about 30 other cities have sought to ban abortions by declaring themselves “sanctuary cities for the unborn.” However, Lubbock is by far the largest to do so.
While the American Civil Liberties Union has challenged a handful of East Texas towns with similar ordinances, its lawsuit was dropped, too.
KXAN.com adds that Planned Parenthood’s lawsuit could provide a “window into how courts may receive lawsuits about” Texas’s recently-passed state law, which bans abortions as early as six weeks.
However, Texas’s state abortion ban is far stricter—while it does not allow state officials to enforce the law, it allows anyone to file a lawsuit against those who assist with an abortion after a fetal heartbeat has been detected. Someone who assist another person with an abortion could be construed as whoever drives a pregnant woman to an abortion clinic, or who pays for the procedure to be completed. People do not have to be related to the mother, and neither do they even have to live in Texas to file suit.