Texas judge temporarily shields clinics from anti-abortion group lawsuits

A Texas state judge temporarily shielded Texas abortion clinics from lawsuits by an anti-abortion group under a new state law, in a narrow ruling handed down on Friday.

The temporary restraining order from state district judge Maya Guerra Gamble in Austin, in response to a Planned Parenthood request, does not interfere with the law.

However, it shields clinics from whistleblower lawsuits by the nonprofit group Texas Right to Life, its legislative director and 100 unidentified individuals.

A hearing on a preliminary injunction request was set for 13 September.

The new Texas law, which took effect on Wednesday, allows anyone anywhere to sue anyone connected to an abortion in which cardiac activity was detected in the embryo: as early as six weeks into a pregnancy, before most women even realize they are pregnant.

In a petition filed late on Thursday, Planned Parenthood said about 85% to 90% of people who obtain abortions in Texas are at least six weeks into pregnancy.

The order “offers protection to the brave healthcare providers and staff at Planned Parenthood health centers throughout Texas, who have continued to offer care as best they can within the law while facing surveillance, harassment and threats from vigilantes eager to stop them,” said Planned Parenthood spokeswoman Helene Krasnoff in a statement.

The order will not deter Texas Right to Life’s efforts, said Elizabeth Graham, the group’s vice-president.

In a statement, the group said: “We expect an impartial court will dismiss Planned Parenthood’s lawsuit. Until then, we will continue our diligent efforts to ensure the abortion industry fully follows” the new law.

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