The TRO would bar the State and deputized private individuals from enforcing the abortion ban S.B. 8
AUSTIN — Today, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a request for a temporary restraining order (TRO) and preliminary injunction with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas in its lawsuit challenging Texas’s unconstitutional six-week abortion ban, S.B. 8, and its “sue thy neighbor” enforcement mechanism. Under the terms of the requested TRO, no person may bring lawsuits against abortion providers, funds, and supporters to enforce the six-week abortion ban while litigation in the case continues.
S.B. 8 took effect on September 1, effectively shutting off abortion access across Texas. Abortion providers across the state have been forced to stop services for fear of frivolous lawsuits brought under the law. In response to the assault on reproductive rights posed by S.B. 8, the Biden-Harris administration directed the DOJ and other agencies to respond swiftly to the law.
Statement from Helene Krasnoff, vice president for public policy litigation and law, Planned Parenthood Federation of America:
“This is another welcome step forward in the fight for abortion access in Texas. We are grateful that the Department of Justice is bringing its full might to restoring Texans’ ability to exercise their constitutional right to abortion. For two weeks now, Texans have been forced to either cross state lines for care or carry a pregnancy against their will. They need relief now.”
The DOJ’s filing is supported by evidence that shows the devastation that S.B. 8 imposes on patients seeking abortion both in Texas and in surrounding states, including through declarations from Planned Parenthood affiliate leaders and providers:
Excerpt from Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast President & CEO Melaney Linton’s declaration in support of the DOJ’s request for a TRO and/or preliminary injunction (LINK):
"This experience has also been traumatic for our physicians and staff as they must tell patient after patient that they cannot care for them, despite that, medically, they should be able to and, indeed, went through significant medical training to provide the very medical care that their patients are asking them to provide and are entitled to receive. They are essentially being forced to inflict trauma on their patients. Every day that S.B. 8 is in effect, our patients are in jeopardy.”
Excerpt from Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains President & CEO Vicky Cowart’s declaration in support of the DOJ’s request for a TRO and/or preliminary injunction (LINK):
“Prior to S.B. 8 taking effect, on average, PPRM provided abortions to 8.8 patients per week from Texas. Yet, in a one-week period (9/3/21–9/9/21), PPRM provided abortion services to 20 Texas patients—which is 53% of our typical monthly patient volume with less than a third of the month elapsed. In addition, there are at least 64 Texas residents who have scheduled appointments at our health centers in the coming weeks, including at our health centers in Las Vegas, NV, with a daily increase while S.B. 8 is in effect.... Patients from Texas travel incredibly long distances to reach our health centers in New Mexico and Colorado; one patient even traveled all the way to one of our Southern Nevada health centers. For example, we have had Texas patients travel from Fort Worth to Boulder, CO (approximately 790 miles one way); San Antonio to Park Hill, CO (approximately 930 miles one way); and Houston to Fort Collins, CO and Aurora, CO (approximately 1000 miles one way). Even those Texas patients who have come from cities that are closer to the New Mexico border (such as El Paso and Amarillo) are having to make 4-hour drives (one way) to reach our Albuquerque, NM health center.... On average, the Texas patients we have seen since S.B. 8 went into effect have traveled approximately 650 miles (one way) to access abortion out of state.”
Excerpt from Planned Parenthood of Arkansas and Eastern Oklahoma Physician Dr. Joshua Yap’s declaration in support of the DOJ’s request for a TRO and/or preliminary injunction (LINK):
“I provided an abortion to [a] woman from Texas who had been raped and could not get an abortion in Texas because of S.B. 8. She was upset and furious that she could not get an abortion close to home and in her own state. She had to figure out how to take extra time off from work to make the trip to Oklahoma, as well as find childcare for her children. I know of at least one other patient from Texas on our schedule for this upcoming week who has indicated that their pregnancy was a result of sexual assault. Several patients from Texas have commented that they can’t believe their state would ban abortion, and that they are so disappointed in their home state of Texas.”
The DOJ’s TRO request comes a day after Planned Parenthood Federation of America obtained a temporary injunction in state court for providers at its three Texas affiliates. That temporary injunction bars Texas Right to Life, its legislative director, and their associates from bringing lawsuits against the Texas Planned Parenthood providers, physicians, and staff under S.B. 8 during ongoing litigation.
Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable sexual and reproductive 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.