Texas doctor sued for violating state’s new “heartbeat” law

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by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent

(Worthy News) – In what will be a test case to assess the legality of Texas’ new law banning abortion after six weeks, a doctor in San Antonio has become the first person to be sued for violating the legislation, the Guardian reports. After publicly stating he had violated the law by carrying out a first-trimester abortion on September 6, Dr. Alan Braid received notification he is being sued by two former lawyers in Arkansas and Illinois respectively.

The new Texas law is controversial not only because it bans abortion before many women know they are pregnant, but also because the state has given all US citizens the right to sue anyone who helps a woman get an abortion (even driving her to a clinic or advising her as a spiritual counselor) for a possible award of over $10,000. The state cannot enforce the law itself because of the 1973 Roe v Wade US Supreme Court case allowing abortion before viability, and so has passed the responsibility onto citizens. The law has raised fears about the proliferation of a vigilante culture and of bounty hunting.

In an article for the Washington Post at the weekend, Braid said he had violated the law and called on people to sue him so the legislation would be tested. “I am taking a personal risk,” Braid wrote. “I have daughters, granddaughters, and nieces. I believe abortion is an essential part of healthcare. 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,” Braid explained.

One of the lawsuits against Braid has been filed by Oscar Stilley, a former attorney in Arkansas who lost his license after a conviction for tax fraud, the Guardian reports. Stilley claims he has filed suit in order to test the legality of the legislation.

“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?” Stilley told the Washington Post “I don’t want doctors out there nervous and sitting there and quaking in their boots and saying, ‘I can’t do this because if this thing works out, then I’m going to be bankrupt,’” Stilley said in a further statement to the Associated Press.

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