A Texas state judge on Friday temporarily banned a pro-life organization from suing Planned Parenthood affiliates in the state as part of the new anti-abortion law there.
Travis County District Court Judge Maya Guerra Gamble issued a temporary restraining order against Texas Right to Life, an anti-abortion group that launched a “whistleblower” website asking for tips about abortions that would be illegal under the new law, S.B. 8, The Hill reported.
“The Court finds that S.B. 8 creates a probable, irreparable, and imminent injury in the interim for which plaintiffs and their physicians, staff and patients throughout Texas have no adequate remedy at law if plaintiffs, their physicians, and staff are subjected to private enforcement lawsuits against them under S.B. 8,” Gamble wrote.
The order, which expires Sept. 17, bars Texas Right to Life from suing abortion providers and workers at Planned Parenthood clinics under the statute, which took effect Wednesday and bans most abortions at around the six-week mark of pregnancy.
The bill, signed by Gov. Greg Abbott in May, allows private citizens to take legal action against doctors or anyone else who helps terminate a pregnancy — even those who drive a woman to an abortion appointment past the time the heartbeat can be detected — with anyone who successfully sues another person entitled to a minimum of $10,000.
Rideshare apps Uber and Lyft announced Friday that they would cover “100 percent” the costs of any of its employees sued under the new law for driving patients or workers to or from abortion clinics.
The ban came into effect earlier this week after the US Supreme Court did not act on an emergency request by abortion providers to block it.
Planned Parenthood welcomed Gamble’s ruling.
“We are relieved that the Travis County district court has acted quickly to grant this restraining order against Texas Right to Life and anyone working with them as deputized enforcers of this draconian law,” Helene Krasnoff, vice president for public policy litigation and law, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement, according to ABC News.
“This restraining order offers protection to the brave health care 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.”
But Texas Right to Life said it remained “undaunted” despite the temporary restraining order.
“This lawsuit will not stop the work of Texas Right to Life,” the group’s Vice President Elizabeth Graham said in a statement to The Hill. “Estimates are that approximately 150 babies per day are being saved because of Texas Right to Life’s leadership on the Texas Heartbeat Act. Planned Parenthood can keep suing us, but Texas Right to Life will never back down from protecting pregnant women and preborn children from abortion.”
The next hearing on the matter is scheduled for Sept. 13