Politics

Judge Grants Temporary Restraining Order Partially Blocking Enforcement Of Texas Heartbeat Act

(Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)

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Mary Margaret Olohan Social Issues Reporter
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  • A federal judge has granted a temporary restraining order blocking pro-life activists from filing lawsuits against attorney Michelle Simpson Tuegel.
  • The ruling only protects Simpson Tuegel from being sued by Texas Right to Life and Legislative Director John Seago, Texas Right to Life said in a press release.
  • The organization insisted that the Heartbeat Act is still set to go into effect Wednesday and that the ruling does not impact any other citizen’s ability to sue for violations of the legislation, “despite attempts to manipulate the media.”

A federal judge has granted a temporary restraining order blocking pro-life activists from filing lawsuits against attorney Michelle Simpson Tuegel.

Pro-abortion activists are racing against the clock to block the enforcement of the Heartbeat Act (S.B. 8), which bans abortions after the unborn baby‘s heartbeat can be detected and is set to go into effect Wednesday.

Abortion groups asked the Supreme Court Monday to block the law’s enforcement, and on Tuesday, Travis County District Court Judge Amy Clark Meachum granted a temporary restraining order in response to a lawsuit from attorney Michelle Simpson Tuegel.

“A temporary restraining order is entered enjoining the Injunctive Defendants, and any and all parties in active concert and participation with them, from instituting any private enforcement lawsuits against Plaintiff under SB8,” the order said. The order expires Sept. 14.

Judge Grants Temporary Rest… by Mary Margaret Olohan

Texas Right to Life insisted in a press release that the ruling only protects Simpson Tuegel from being sued by Texas Right to Life and Legislative Director John Seago, that the Heartbeat Act is still set to go into effect Wednesday and that the ruling does not impact any other citizen’s ability to sue for violations of the legislation, “despite attempts to manipulate the media.”

“This ruling by a Travis County judge does not change Texas Right to Life’s plans,” the organization said. “Texas Right to Life is still legally authorized to sue others who violate the Texas Heartbeat Act, including abortionists.”

Simpson Tuegel had filed a lawsuit Aug. 23 arguing that the Heartbeat Act endangers lawyers who provide legal advice on abortions. She said in a statement that the decision means, “at least for today, a court is communicating to Texas’ women that they will continue to legally access resources, advice and support as it relates to abortion in Texas.”

Her attorneys maintain that the ruling affects not only Texas Right to Life and Seago but also “those they are working to organize to bring lawsuits.” (RELATED: Attorney Takes Legal Action To Block ‘Desperate’ Texas Law Allowing Citizens To Sue Clinics, Doctors For Performing Abortions)

“We look forward to making the case on behalf of our clients on September 13 for more permanent relief while the court can appropriately consider how blatantly unconstitutional SB8 is in so many respects, and how many different people it puts at risk,” Simpson Tuegel’s attorneys Jenny Ecklund, Elizabeth Myers, and Mackenzie Wallace said in a statement to the Daily Caller News Foundation.

“This bill is yet another desperate attempt by the state of Texas to undermine a woman’s right to choose — this time by dismantling her legal support system,” Simpson Tuegel said in a statement when she filed the lawsuit. “It unlawfully attempts to block attorneys’ communications with their female clients, especially at times when the clients need them the most.”

Michelle Simpson Tuegel Law… by Mary Margaret Olohan

Center for Reproductive Rights President Nancy Northrop warned Monday that if the law is not blocked within the next two days, “Texas politicians will have effectively overturned Roe v. Wade.”

“Texans, like everyone else in this country, should be able to count on safe abortion care in their own state,” Whole Woman’s Health CEO Amy Hagstrom Miller said in a statement. “No one should be forced to drive hundreds of miles or be made to continue a pregnancy against their will, yet that’s what will happen unless the Supreme Court steps in.”

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