Texas Right to Life (TRTL), a large pro-life lobbying group based in Houston, has mostly become a lightning rod for these lawsuits. Before the bill’s effective date of September 1, the group encouraged citizens to sue under the law, which allows most Texans to sue anyone other than a mother who practices or assists in a post-heartbeat abortion. The group has also set up a website to report violations of the new law, although site host GoDaddy recently scuttled it.
Dallas attorney Michelle Simpson Tuegel filed a lawsuit Aug. 23 against TRTL and several John Does intended to represent as yet unnamed associates in the group who could prosecute Heartbeat violators. Tuegel eventually got a temporary injunction against TRTL and John Does in Travis County District Court on the eve of the law’s coming into force date. However, the order only prevents TRTL and its associates from suing Tuegel.
Several branches of Planned Parenthood have pursued the organization more effectively. Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas, Planned Parenthood South Texas Surgical Center, Planned Parenthood Center for Choice, and abortion physician Bhavik Kumar also won awards temporary restraining order in Travis County. The order prohibits TRTL and 100 anonymous associates from pursuing these plaintiffs under the law.
Despite these early victories for abortion centers, the law seems to have the desired effect. Because it allows legal action by any Texan, other than fathers who conceived the aborted child through rape or incest, the temporary restraining orders against TRTL do not provide much protection for Planned Parenthood.
As such, Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers have stopped post-heartbeat abortions.
“Historically, the overwhelming majority – 85 to 90 percent – of Texans who have abortions in the state are at least six weeks pregnant. Under SB 8, the nation’s first six-week abortion ban allowed to go into effect, few will be able to receive care in the state, forcing patients to bear the financial and emotional cost of traveling elsewhere for essential care, and during a pandemic. ”
The senior officers of TRTL praised these results.
“This lawsuit will not stop the work of Texas Right to Life,” Vice President Elizabeth Graham said of the Planned Parenthood lawsuit.
“It is estimated that around 150 babies per day are saved as a result of Texas Right to Life’s leadership on the Texas Heartbeat Act. Planned Parenthood may continue to sue us, but Texas Right to Life will never back down to protect pregnant women and unborn children from abortion.