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Texas Anti-Abortion Leader Admits Law Was Intended To Intimidate, Not To Actually Allow Lawsuits

Texas Anti-Abortion Leader Admits Law Was Intended To Intimidate, Not To Actually Allow Lawsuits

The new Texas law bans abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, and allows individuals to sue abortion providers and anyone else who helps a pregnant person access an abortion. Speaking in response to early lawsuits filed as permitted by the law, one of the leaders of the anti-choice movement in Texas says that the law was intended to be a scare tactic to prevent abortion access, not to really encourage lawsuits.

AUSTIN, TX – MAY 29: Protesters march toward the Governors mansion at a protest outside the Texas state capitol on May 29, 2021 in Austin, Texas. Thousands of protesters came out in response to a new bill outlawing abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected signed on Wednesday by Texas Governor Greg Abbot.(Photo by Sergio Flores/Getty Images)

The New York Times reported that two lawsuits have been filed against Dr. Alan Braid, who publicly announced that he had provided a patient with an abortion in defiance of the law. The lawsuits are expected to be the first real test of the new law, and an effective opportunity to challenge it.

However, it’s the response from the Texas state director and national legislative adviser for Human Coalition, Chelsey Youman, that has been most revealing. First, she affirmed that her anti-abortion organization does not intend to file a lawsuit against Dr. Braid, and that she doesn’t encourage anyone else to do so. She suggested the lawsuits might be fake, or “plants,” and accused the doctor of going public in order to invite “frivolous lawsuits” — the very lawsuits the new law invites.

Instead, anti-choice activists apparently thought the cost and hassle of filing a lawsuit would prevent this eventuality, and that providers would be too afraid of being sued to take the risk — essentially that the law would be an effective scare tactic to take the option away from pregnant people.

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The Texas Tribune reported on the law back in May, before the Supreme Court refused to hear a challenge to it, citing an analysis by South Texas College of Law Houston constitutional law professor Josh Blackman, who described the law as “very clever,” because it’s designed to be impossible to challenge — except by someone who faces a lawsuit over it themselves.

“Planned Parenthood can’t go to court and sue Attorney General [Ken] Paxton like they usually would because he has no role in enforcing the statute. They have to basically sit and wait to be sued.”

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