Mary Margaret Olohan
- Attorney Michelle Simpson Tuegel filed a lawsuit Monday to block a pro-life Texas abortion law, arguing that the law endangers lawyers who provide legal advice on abortions.
- “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. “It unlawfully attempts to block attorneys’ communications with their female clients, especially at times when the clients need them the most.”
- Pro-life advocates at the Human Coalition Action argue that Simpson Tuegel’s lawsuit fails to take into account the lives of the unborn.
Attorney Michelle Simpson Tuegel filed a lawsuit Monday to block a pro-life Texas abortion law, arguing that the law endangers lawyers who provide legal advice on abortions.
“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. “It unlawfully attempts to block attorneys’ communications with their female clients, especially at times when the clients need them the most.”
Simpson Tuegel’s lawsuit requests a temporary restraining order to block the enforcement of Texas’ Heartbeat Act (S.B. 8) signed into law May 19, that bans abortions after the unborn baby‘s heartbeat can be detected (usually by about six weeks). The law, which makes exceptions for medical emergencies but not in cases of rape or incest, is scheduled to go into effect September 1.
It has raised the ire of pro-abortion advocates as it allows “any person” to sue doctors, abortion clinics, or anyone who “knowingly engages in conduct that aids or abets the performance or inducement of an abortion.”
Those who sue over an abortion may be awarded $10,000 “for each abortion that the defendant” performed, induced, aided, or abetted in violation of the law — monetary amounts that some pro-abortion advocates are calling “bounties.”
Simpson Tuegel argued that the Heartbeat Act attempts to block attorneys from providing legal advice on obtaining abortions and “created a framework that pits attorneys against their own clients,” according to a press release from Simpson Tuegel Law Firm.
“Don’t let the different packaging fool you. This bill violates the rights of women to seek lawful medical care, as well as the rights of those who protect them to do their jobs,” Simpson Tuegel said in a statement.
“By filing this lawsuit,” she continued, “I intend to send the message to women in Texas who need help now and in the future that they still have advocates who are committed to protecting their health and welfare. Though SB8 intends to silence me and other attorneys like me, I will continue to provide legal advice to women who contact me, even if the law goes into effect on September 1st.”
The law has sparked a backlash from abortion advocates, Democrats, and media figures who have compared the law to the Taliban and the dystopian show The Handmaid’s Tale.
“So now Texas Republicans are putting bounties on pregnant women,” MSNBC’s Joy Reid tweeted in July. “I almost hate to ask what this benighted party will think of next. This is Talibanism. Are Texas conservatives going to be spying on women of childbearing age and turning them in for the bounties?”
Pro-life advocates argue that the law is necessary to protect the lives of the unborn. “No one has the right to assist in taking the life of an unborn child,” Human Coalition Action Texas Legislative Director Chelsey Youman told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “This lawsuit fails to consider the unborn baby’s beating heart, a clear and scientifically acknowledged sign of life. S.B. 8 intends to protect those beating hearts from elimination.”
“Instead of helping her clients obtain abortions, I urge this attorney and others like her to connect clients to the over 2,700 organizations like Human Coalition,” Youman said. “These non-profits come alongside women to give them permanent solutions such as the resources and assistance they need to lead healthy, stable lives alongside their children.”
Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the DCNF.
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