Judge Grants Temporary Restraining Order Partially Blocking Texas Heartbeat Act
A federal judge has granted a temporary restraining order blocking pro-life activists from filing lawsuits against attorney Michelle Simpson Tuegel.
Pro-abortion activists are racing against the clock to block the enforcement of the Heartbeat Act (S.B. 8), which bans abortions after the unborn baby’s heartbeat can be detected and is set to go into effect Wednesday.
Abortion groups asked the Supreme Court on Monday to block the law’s enforcement.
On Tuesday, Travis County District Court Judge Amy Clark Meachum granted a temporary restraining order in response to a lawsuit from attorney Michelle Simpson Tuegel.
“A temporary restraining order is entered enjoining the Injunctive Defendants, and any and all parties in active concert and participation with them, from instituting any private enforcement lawsuits against Plaintiff under SB8,” the order said. The order expires Sept. 14.
Texas Right to Life insisted in a press release that the ruling only protects Simpson Tuegel from being sued by Texas Right to Life and Legislative Director John Seago, that the Heartbeat Act is still set to go into effect Wednesday and that the ruling does not impact any other citizen’s ability to sue for violations of the legislation — “despite attempts to manipulate the media.”
“This ruling by a Travis County judge does not change Texas Right to Life’s plans,” the organization said.
“Texas Right to Life is still legally authorized to sue others who violate the Texas Heartbeat Act, including abortionists.”
Simpson Tuegel had filed a lawsuit Aug. 23, arguing that the Heartbeat Act endangers lawyers who provide legal advice on abortions.
She said in a statement to the Daily Caller News Foundation that the decision means, “at least for today, a court is communicating to Texas’ women that they will continue to legally access resources, advice and support as it relates to abortion in Texas.”
Her attorneys maintain that the ruling affects not only Texas Right to Life and Seago but also “those they are working to organize to bring lawsuits.”
The law, which makes exceptions for medical emergencies but not in cases of rape or incest, has raised the ire of pro-abortion advocates as it allows “any person” to sue doctors, abortion clinics, or anyone who “knowingly engages in conduct that aids or abets the performance or inducement of an abortion.”
Those who sue over an abortion may be awarded $10,000 “for each abortion that the defendant” performed, induced, aided, or abetted in violation of the law — monetary amounts that some pro-abortion advocates are calling “bounties.”
So now Texas Republicans are putting bounties on pregnant women. I almost hate to ask what this benighted party will think of next. https://t.co/mUrJgVBIAi
— Joy-Ann (Pro-Democracy) Reid ? (@JoyAnnReid) July 12, 2021
“This bill is yet another desperate attempt by the state of Texas to undermine a woman’s right to choose — this time by dismantling her legal support system,” Simpson Tuegel said in a statement when she filed the lawsuit.
“It unlawfully attempts to block attorneys’ communications with their female clients, especially at times when the clients need them the most.”
Center for Reproductive Rights President Nancy Northrop warned Monday that if the law is not blocked within the next two days, “Texas politicians will have effectively overturned Roe v. Wade.”
“Texans, like everyone else in this country, should be able to count on safe abortion care in their own state,” Whole Woman’s Health CEO Amy Hagstrom Miller said in a statement.
“No one should be forced to drive hundreds of miles or be made to continue a pregnancy against their will, yet that’s what will happen unless the Supreme Court steps in.”
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