While S.B. 8 remains in effect, temporary injunction will prevent lawsuits from antii-abortion organization against health center staff under “sue thy neighbor” law as case proceeds
AUSTIN — Today, in lieu of testifying in District Court, the Texas Right to Life agreed to a temporary injunction against it and its associates, stopping them from suing abortion providers and health care workers at Planned Parenthood health centers in Texas under S.B. 8, a new law which bans abortion after six weeks of pregnancy. With the “sue thy neighbor” law newly in effect, millions of Texans are now without access to abortion, and providers and support networks are vulnerable to malicious lawsuits.
Statement from Helene Krasnoff, vice president for public policy litigation and law, Planned Parenthood Federation of America:
“We are relieved that the Travis County district court has entered a temporary injunction against Texas Right to Life and anyone working with them. Despite Texas Right to Life’s last-ditch attempt to get out of testifying at today’s court hearing, our providers and health care workers will now have some protection from frivolous suits as litigation against this blatantly unconstitutional law continues. After nearly two weeks with S.B. 8 in effect, the law’s devastating impact is clear. Desperate Texans are being forced to carry pregnancies against their will or flee the state to seek constitutionally protected care, and brave health care providers and staff across the state are working hard to provide care within the law while facing surveillance, harassment, and threats. This temporary injunction is an important step, but it is not enough relief for our staff and the seven million women of reproductive age in Texas for whom abortion care remains virtually inaccesible. Planned Parenthood and its partners will continue fighting S.B. 8 in court and working to restore Texans’ access to abortion."
The request for a temporary injunction was filed by Planned Parenthood South Texas Surgical Center, Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas Surgical Health Services, Planned Parenthood Center for Choice, and Planned Parenthood Center for Choice abortion provider Dr. Bhavik Kumar. Under the temporary injunction, Texas Right to Life, its legislative director John Seago, and anyone acting in concert with them remains barred from bringing lawsuits against Planned Parenthood, Dr. Kumar, and employees of the Texas health centers under S.B. 8’s private enforcement provision while litigation against the unconstitutional law continues.
The U.S. Supreme Court allowed S.B. 8 to take effect nearly two weeks ago, disregarding 50 years of precedent by denying an emergency request to block the law’s unconstitutional pre-viability abortion ban. S.B. 8 is already decimating abortion access in the state, as providers are forced to turn people away under the six-week abortion ban. Historically, the overwhelming majority — 85 to 90 percent — of Texans who obtain abortions in the state are at least six weeks into pregnancy. Under S.B. 8, the nation’s first six-week abortion ban allowed to take effect, few are 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. For many Texans, particularly those who are Black or Latinx, who have low incomes, or who live in rural areas, abortion is completely unattainable.
Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable health care for all people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With more than 600 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect, and without judgment, striving to create equitable access to health care. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable education and information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives. Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization that supports the independently incorporated Planned Parenthood affiliates operating health centers across the U.S.