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Lawsuits & Litigation

Texas Judge: Anti-Abortion Activists Can’t Sue Planned Parenthood

— September 5, 2021

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for September 13th.

A Texas state judge will shield Planned Parenthood from any lawsuits filed in line with the Lone Star State’s “heartbeat bill,” which allows private citizens to sue anyone who aids an abortion after an embryo has registered cardiac activity.

According to National Public Radio, Austin-based District Judge Maya Guerra Gamble’s Friday decision does not interfere with existing state law.

However, Guerra Gamble’s ruling does shield Planned Parenthood clinics from further litigation.

Planned Parenthood requested a restraining order against Texas Right to Life and 100 unnamed individuals who had either sued Planned Parenthood for aiding abortions under the new state law, or were expected to promptly file suit.

NPR notes that Texas’s law, which took effect earlier this week, allows anyone, anywhere, to file a lawsuit against any individual who knowingly aids or facilitates an abortion after cardiac activity is detected in an embryo.

Anti-abortion protesters in Washington, D.C. in 2009. Image via Wikimedia Commons/user:
Boston. (CCA-BY-3.0).

While Texas’s anti-abortion law does not have a strict timeline, an embryo can register heartbeats as early as six weeks into gestation. Oftentimes, embryos have detectable heartbeats before a woman is even aware that she is pregnant.

In a petition filed on Thursday, Planned Parenthood said that up to 90% of the people who avail its clinics’ abortion services are “at least” six weeks into pregnancy.

Planned Parenthood spokesperson Helene Krasnoff praised Guerra Gamble’s ruling, saying it provides some protection to workers who intend to keep doing their job.

Guerra Gamble’s order, said Krasnoff, “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.”

The ruling applies not just to Texas Right to Life, but to “any and all parties and persons in active concert and participation with them.”

CNN notes that a preliminary hearing on the restraining order is scheduled for September 13th.

Nonetheless, Texas Right to Life—the group behind the lawsuit—said they will not be dissuaded from filing an appeal or taking further action against abortion clinics.

“We expect an impartial court will dismiss Planned Parenthood’s lawsuit,” Texas Right to Life Vice President Elizabeth Graham said in a statement. “Until then, we will continue our diligent efforts to ensure the abortion industry fully follows” Texas state law.

“Planned Parenthood can keep suing us,” Graham added, “but Texas Right to Life will never back down from protecting pregnant women and preborn children from abortion.”


Judge Shields Texas Clinics From Anti-Abortion Group’s Lawsuits

Planned Parenthood vs. Texas Right to Life

Texas judge temporarily blocks anti-abortion group from suing Planned Parenthood abortion providers under new law

Why “heartbeat bill” is a misleading name for Texas’ near-total abortion ban

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