Arkansas lawyer sues Texas doctor who defied state abortion ban over 'duty of care'

Arkansas lawyer sues Texas doctor who defied state abortion ban over 'duty of care'
Charlotte Cooper https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en

A Texas doctor is facing a lawsuit in what appears to be the first since Texas' near-total abortion ban went into effect this month. According to NBC News, Dr. Alan Braid has been sued by a former attorney named Oscar Stilley after admitting that he performed an illegal abortion after Texas Senate Bill 8 was enacted.

On September 6, Braid, an abortion care provider in San Antonio, Texas, penned an op-ed for The Washington Post where he shared details about the abortion he performed. Although the woman was still in the first trimester of pregnancy, Braid said she was beyond the time frame to have an abortion that would be considered legal under the state's new abortion law.

So, why did he make the decision? Braid said his decision was based solely on his "duty" to take care of the patient.

The physician wrote that he "provided an abortion to a woman who, though still in her first trimester, was beyond the state's new limit," adding, "I acted because I had a duty of care to this patient, as I do for all patients, and because she has a fundamental right to receive this care.

Braid also acknowledged that he was, indeed, aware of the legal consequences. "I fully understood that there could be legal consequences — but I wanted to make sure that Texas didn't get away with its bid to prevent this blatantly unconstitutional law from being tested," he wrote.

Stilley, an Arkansas man who was convicted of federal tax evasion and sentenced to 15 years behind bars, is "seeking $100,000 or at least the $10,000 minimum that the Texas law requires be awarded for a successful suit." Under Texas law, private citizens are given the freedom to sue abortion care providers for a minimum of $10,000.

In wake of Braid's admission and the lawsuit he is facing, the Center for Reproductive Rights has praised him for his courageous efforts.

"Dr. Braid has courageously stood up against this blatantly unconstitutional law. We stand ready to defend him against the vigilante lawsuits that S.B. 8 threatens to unleash against those providing or supporting access to constitutionally protected abortion care," Nancy Northup, the group's president, and CEO, said in the statement.

"For more than two weeks this unconscionable law has been in effect, harming numerous Texans, and falling hardest on those struggling to make ends meet and people of color, who already face barriers to health care," she said. "It's past time for a court to step in and block it."

Since the case appears to be the first of its kind, legal analysts and experts are anticipating how the case will turn out. According to NBC News legal analyst Danny Cevallos, Stilley's complaint appear to be "bonkers" as it will likely highlight how "silly" the Texas law can be when it comes to who has the power to file a lawsuit.

Editor's note: This headline has been updated.

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