A self-described "disbarred and disgraced former Arkansas lawyer" filed a lawsuit on Monday against Alan Braid, a Texas physician who wrote in The Washington Post over the weekend that he violated the state's restrictive abortion ban by performing the procedure on a patient.
The Texas abortion ban, which went into effect on Sept. 1, allows citizens to sue providers and anyone believed to have had a role in "aiding or abetting" an abortion that took place once cardiac activity was detected; this is often as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. Braid wrote in the Post on Saturday that he performed a first trimester abortion on Sept. 6 at his San Antonio clinic because "I believe abortion is an essential part of health care" and "I can't just sit back and watch us return to 1972." He added that he sees this as "a duty of care to this patient, as I do for all patients."
The man who filed the civil suit against Braid is former lawyer Oscar Stilley, who told the Post he is not connected to the abortion Braid performed and isn't even adamantly anti-abortion, but is interested in the $10,000 he could receive if he wins in court. "If the law is no good, why should we have to go through a long, drawn-out process to find out if it's garbage?" he told the Post. Stilley was convicted of tax fraud in 2010 and sentenced to 15 years in prison, and is now serving out the rest of his time at home.
The Supreme Court rejected an attempt to block the Texas law shortly after it went into effect, and the Justice Department later filed an emergency request to keep the law from being enforced; a hearing is set for Oct. 1 in Austin.
Several anti-abortion groups have accused Braid of writing about performing an abortion as a way to bait people into filing lawsuits against him. New York University law professor Melissa Murray told the Post that lawsuits like the one filed by Stilley were "never the principal goal" of the Texas law; instead, the law makes it so there can't be a preemptive legal challenge. The goal was to "absolutely bring reproductive care in Texas to a standstill," she added. "That was always the endgame."