The infamous Texan abortion ban has been widely criticized for shifting the application of justice to private citizens instead of state officials or law enforcement. Under this law, whoever successfully sues anyone who “aids or abets” an abortion, is entitled to a $10,000 reward, minimum.
As expected, bounty hunters have already started to test its scope, as a Texan doctor who admitted having violated the ban has recently been sued in two different actions by two disbarred attorneys, one in Arkansas and another in Illinois.
Dr. Alan Braid, a San Antonio obstetrician and gynecologist wrote an opinion column in the Washington Post confessing he had performed an abortion after the legal ban was implemented motivated by a “duty of care.”
“I understand that by providing an abortion beyond the new legal limit, I am taking a personal risk, but it’s something I believe in strongly,” Braid wrote in The Post column. “I have daughters, granddaughters, and nieces. I believe abortion is an essential part of health care. … I can’t just sit back and watch us return to 1972.”
According to the Austin American Statesman, the two plaintiffs who sued Dr. Braid are Oscar Stilley, a former lawyer convicted of tax fraud who is on home confinement, and Felipe Gomez, who identified in his lawsuit as a “pro-choice plaintiff”
“(The statute) says any person can bring a lawsuit,” said Oscar Stilley. “As far as I’m concerned, it doesn’t matter that I’m a disbarred attorney. It doesn’t matter that I’m in custody. It doesn’t matter that I’m up in Arkansas and not in Texas. It kind of looks like I have nothing to do with it, but they said I can have a chance and I can go in there and I can sue and collect $10,000 for it.”
In what appear to be the first lawsuits spurred by the statute’s goal of making providers targets of litigation, one of the plaintiffs says he’s not opposed to abortion and the other’s lawsuit reportedly asks that the state’s new abortion restrictions be ruled unconstitutional, as reported by the Texas Tribune.
Felipe N. Gomez the “pro-choice plaintiff”, aligns himself with Braid in the lawsuit, and said he does not ask for monetary damages, but asks “the Court to declare that the Act is unconstitutional, and in violation of Roe v Wade”.
Even Texas Right to Life, an anti-abortion advocacy group, called the lawsuits “self-serving legal stunts” and said Stilley and Gomez are “abusing the cause of action created in the Texas Heartbeat Act for their own purposes.”
“Well, that’s the law and I want that $10,000 and I intend to be the fastest gun in the West.” Said self-proclaimed “disbarred and disgraced former Arkansas lawyer”, Oscar Stilley.