Texas doctor who performed abortion becomes first person sued under new law, setting up constitutional showdown

Arkansas man stands to win at least $10,000 in damages if civil suit is successful

Justin Vallejo
New York
Monday 20 September 2021 23:47
DOJ Asks Federal Court To Block Texas Abortion Law
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A Texas doctor who admitted to breaking the state’s new abortion law to force a test of its legality has been sued, setting up a constitutional challenge that could end up in the Supreme Court.

San Antonio physician Alan Braid was sued by an Arkansas man in a civil lawsuit filed on Monday, according to The Washington Post.

Dr Braid instigated the showdown in a Post opinion column over the weekend where he admitted to breaking the law on 6 September, just days after it came into effect at the start of the month.

“I fully understood that there could be legal consequences — but I wanted to make sure that Texas didn’t get away with its bid to prevent this blatantly unconstitutional law from being tested,” Mr Braid wrote.

The suit filed against Mr Braid comes from former lawyer Oscar Stilley, who told the Post he is not personally opposed to abortion but acted after reading Mr Braid’s confession on Saturday to test the law.

Mr Braid also stands to gain at least $10,000 in damages if successful.

“If the law is no good, why should we have to go through a long, drawn-out process to find out if it’s garbage?” he told the outlet, which adds that Mr Stilley is currently serving a 15-year federal sentence for tax fraud in home confinement.

“If the state of Texas decided it’s going to give a $10,000 bounty, why shouldn’t I get that $10,000 bounty?”

The Texas Heartbeat Act, or SB 8, bans abortion once the heartbeat of the foetus is detected, which can be as early as six weeks into the pregnancy.

The first legal challenge in the Supreme Court was dismissed on procedural grounds as opponents had sued the wrong people.

Texas’ new law was designed to remove state officials from the enforcement process, and instead left it to private citizens to file lawsuits against anyone in violation of the statute.

Its constitutionality could not be tested in the courts until someone performed an abortion and someone else sued that person for it, which Mr Braid and Mr Stilley have both now made possible.

Mr Stilley was first to file the suit against Mr Braid, beating the anti-abortion group Texas Right to Life. The group had said it was exploring its options following Mr Braid’s admission in The Washington Post opinion column, headlined “Why I violated Texas’s extreme abortion ban”.

In the piece, Mr Braid said he performed a first-trimester abortion that was “beyond the state’s new limit”.

“I understand that by providing an abortion beyond the new legal limit, I am taking a personal risk, but it’s something I believe in strongly,” Mr Braid added.

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