- A disbarred former attorney in Arkansas is suing a Texas doctor for performing an abortion.
- The lawsuit presents the first publicized legal challenge to Texas’ new abortion restrictions.
- Dr. Alan Braid admitted to performing the abortion in a Washington Post opinion article on Saturday.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
An Arkansas man is suing a doctor who recently performed an abortion in Texas after six weeks of pregnancy, an act now considered illegal under the state’s new abortion restrictions.
Oscar Stilley, a former lawyer disbarred on charges of tax evasion and conspiracy in 2010, filed a lawsuit on Monday against Dr. Alan Braid, a doctor in San Antonio, Texas.
The lawsuit comes after Braid published an opinion column in The Washington Post on Saturday, publicly explaining his decision to perform an abortion earlier this month in spite of a new Texas law that restricts the procedure after fetal heartbeat activity is detected, typically at the six-week mark of pregnancy.
Braid said he performed the abortion for a woman who was still in her first trimester but 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,” Braid wrote, citing the Supreme Court’s 1973 decision Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion nationwide.
The lawsuit represents the first legal test to the Texas abortion law – considered to be one of the most restrictive in the nation – that took effect on September 1.
The statute is uniquely designed as it invites private citizens, rather than state officials, to enforce the six-week ban. That means any private citizen, even someone outside of Texas, can sue an abortion provider or anyone who they believe helped a patient get an abortion beyond the state’s limit. For every successful lawsuit, the private citizen will be rewarded at least $US10,000 ($AU13,776), in addition to legal fees.
Stilley told The Washington Post in an interview that he isn’t against abortion, but believes the new law is in need of judicial scrutiny. The US Supreme Court denied a request to stop the law from going into effect at the beginning of September.
“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 Post.
Despite his beliefs, Stilley is asking for $US100,000 ($AU137,755) from Braid in the lawsuit for performing the abortion – 10 times more than the statutory minimum that the law suggests.
In a narrow 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court’s majority argued that its September 2 decision was technical and not based on the constitutionality of the Texas law, which can still be legally challenged.
Democrats and pro-abortion groups have ripped into the ruling, arguing that it violates longstanding precedent. The Biden administration filed a lawsuit against Texas earlier this month in an attempt to block the law.
The Supreme Court is due to consider a major case on the constitutionality of abortion in the upcoming term. The justices will hear arguments for the case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, on December 1.
The case concerns a Mississippi law that bans nearly all abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. It presents a challenge to Roe v. Wade, which determined the constitutional right to an abortion until pre-viability, the point when a fetus can survive outside of the womb, typically at the 24-week mark of pregnancy.