Doctor who wrote op-ed admitting to violating Texas abortion law sued

A Texas doctor who admitted in an op-ed to violating the state’s new law that bans abortion after six weeks has been sued, court documents show. Two lawsuits, one from a Chicago man and the other filed by a plaintiff in Arkansas who is under home confinement while serving a 15-year prison sentence, were filed Monday against the doctor.

Alan Braid, a physician practicing in San Antonio, wrote in an op-ed published Saturday in The Washington Post that “on the morning of September 6, I provided an abortion to a woman who, though still in her first trimester, was beyond the state’s new limit. I acted because I had a duty of care to this patient, as I do for all patients, and because she has a fundamental right to receive this care.”

The Texas law, known as S.B. 8, bans all abortions once cardiac activity is detected in a fetus. This usually occurs around the sixth week of pregnancy, before most people know they are pregnant. The law provides no exceptions for rape or incest.

“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 wrote.

On Monday, Oscar Stilley of Arkansas, a former lawyer who was disbarred and convicted of tax evasion and conspiracy in 2010, sued Baird in Bexar County, where San Antonio is located.

“On information and belief, Defendant has allowed his own personal ideology to cause him to violate the express provisions of Senate Bill 8, despite the potential consequences,” the lawsuit reads.

Stilley admits in his filing to being in the 12th year of a 15-year sentence and, although the filing spends some time attempting to dismiss the charges against him, notes that the Texas law has no provision against out-of-state felons from filing civil suits against suspected abortion providers.

Stilley’s suit also “requests that this Court order Defendant to pay to Plaintiff the sum of $100,000, but in no case less than the statutory minimum of $10,000; for an injunction prohibiting Defendant from performing any more abortions contrary to the terms of Senate Bill 8.”

S.B. 8, which went into effect September 1, empowers anyone other than “an officer or employee of a state or local governmental entity in this state” to file a civil suit against someone suspected of providing or aiding someone in obtaining an abortion after six weeks of pregnancy. Anyone who successfully brings about such a suit is entitled to receive at least $10,000.

Also on Monday, Felipe Gomez of Chicago filed a lawsuit against Braid; however, his lawsuit asks for the Texas law to be declared unconstitutional.

“Plaintiff alleges that Defendant did not violate Roe v Wade, and that the Act is illegal as written and as applied here until Roe v Wade is reversed or modified,” per Gomez’s filing. In his filing, Gomez identifies himself as a “pro choice plaintiff” and does not seek any monetary compensation.

The Texas abortion ban, the strictest in the nation, is facing multiple legal challenges. Abortion providers, including the one Braid operates, have sued to block the law, arguing that  it violates the landmark 1973 Supreme Court Roe v. Wade decision. The Justice Department has also sued Texas over its law, and filed a petition for an emergency injunction to halt enforcement of the law while litigation proceeds.

The U.S. Supreme Court, responding to a petition from abortion providers, had previously ruled in a 5 to 4 decision not to temporarily block the law. While the majority opinion acknowledged that the plaintiffs “have raised serious questions regarding the constitutionality of the Texas law at issue,” they chose not to block its enforcement on procedural grounds. S.B. 8 leaves enforcements up to citizens bringing forth civil suits, making it difficult to challenge in court because it can be unclear who the defendant should be.

The Justice Department’s request for a temporary restraining order likely faces the same issue. A hearing on the matter is scheduled for October 1.