The Planned Parenthood abortion chain is fighting in court to stop a Texas law that protects unborn babies from abortion once their heartbeat is detectable.
Its lawsuit, filed in partnership with several other abortion groups, specifically targets pro-life Texas Judge Austin Reeve Jackson, along with Smith County District Clerk Penny Clarkston and pro-life leader Mark Lee Dickson. The pro-abortion groups are asking a federal judge to stop Jackson and others from enforcing the new law.
The Tyler Morning Telegraph reports U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman scheduled a hearing on the case for Aug. 30, two days before the law is slated to go into effect.
The heartbeat law prohibits abortions once an unborn baby’s heartbeat is detectable, about six weeks of pregnancy. Unique from other heartbeat laws, the Texas legislation includes a private enforcement mechanism that allows people to file lawsuits against abortionists who violate the law.
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In their lawsuit, Planned Parenthood and the Whole Woman’s Health abortion chains argue that the potential lawsuits would “bankrupt” the abortion industry by creating a “threat of ruinous monetary penalties and injunctions ordering them to stop providing constitutionally protected health care and to stop supporting abortion patients,” according to the report.
They also claim the law would cause immediate “irreparable harm” to women by depriving them of their constitutional rights.
The pro-abortion groups want Pitman to block enforcement of the law and to stop Jackson and other Texas officials from processing lawsuits against abortionists.
Specifically, they want the federal judge “to prevent any of the state’s trial court judges, potentially more than 1,000 throughout Texas, from enforcing the law and to block court clerks from accepting the lawsuits,” according to Newsmax.
Jackson asked the judge to dismiss the lawsuit against him. His lawyers criticized the pro-abortion groups’ lawsuit as a “thinly-veiled request for this court to tell Judge Jackson how to be a judge.”
“The left is so used to the idea of having an activist judge that they believe any judge can be bought, bullied, or beaten into submission or resignation,” Jackson said earlier this month. “Make no mistake this lawsuit is a direct attack by far-left groups on the rule of law and the right of pro-life communities to elect people who share their values.”
Attorney Shane McGuire, who is representing Jackson, expressed confidence that their request will be granted because Texas law prohibits lawsuits against sitting judges.
“Reeve was targeted because of his character,” McGuire said. “He’ll prevail because of the law.”
The private enforcement provision in the heartbeat law is similar to language in the Sanctuary City for the Unborn ordinances that are passing at the city level, and pro-life leaders believe the law is more likely to withstand a legal challenge and save babies’ lives.
A Texas judge recently threw out Planned Parenthood’s lawsuit against a similar provision at the local level, the Lubbock Sanctuary City for the Unborn ordinance.
The heartbeat law has the potential to save tens of thousands of unborn babies’ lives every year. In 2019, more than 56,600 unborn babies were aborted in the state, according to state health statistics. The Center for Reproductive Rights estimates about 85 percent of abortions in Texas happen after six weeks.
Previously, Texas Right to Life described the lawsuit as a “desperate” attempt by the abortion industry to keep killing unborn babies.
“The abortion industry has responded to this innovative law with a far-reaching and distorted lawsuit,” said John Seago, legislative director of Texas Right to Life. “We still have the utmost confidence in the innovative legal strategy and carefully drafted nature of SB 8, and we fully believe this pro-life priority will ultimately be upheld and save countless preborn lives.”
Though abortion activists claim public support is on their side, polls suggest otherwise.
An April poll by the University of Texas-Austin found that Texans support a six-week abortion ban. According to the poll, 49 percent support making abortions illegal after six weeks of pregnancy, while 41 percent oppose it.
In 2019, a national Hill-HarrisX survey also found that 55 percent of voters said they do not think laws banning abortions after six weeks – when an unborn baby’s heartbeat is detectable – are too restrictive. Gallup polls consistently find that a majority of Americans think all or most abortions should be illegal.
In 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court took away the states’ ability to protect unborn babies from abortion under Roe v. Wade, and instead forced states to legalize abortion on demand. Roe made the United States one of only seven countries in the world that allows elective abortions after 20 weeks. The court is scheduled to hear a Mississippi case in the fall that challenges this precedent.