Planned Parenthood granted restraining order against Texas Right to Life as abortion battle rages

"Anti-abortion activists are already staking out our health centers."

September 3, 2021, 7:41 PM

Planned Parenthood affiliates in Texas were granted a temporary restraining order against an anti-abortion group Friday, in the latest stage of the fight for abortion rights.

The order stops Texas Right to Life and associates from suing Planned Parenthood abortion providers and health care workers under Senate Bill 8, the abortion ban that went into effect in Texas this week that is the most restrictive abortion law in effect in the nation.

S.B. 8 curiously prohibits the state from enforcing the ban but allows private citizens to bring civil suits against anyone who "aids or abets" an abortion.

Texas Right to Life has been at the forefront of the push for civilians to enforce the ban and has launched a website for people to submit claims that they know someone who gave or aided an abortion after six weeks of pregnancy.

The filing had claimed Texas Right to Life's "threatened implementation of the six-week ban and its enforcement scheme, as well as S.B. 8's fee-shifting provision, would cause imminent, irreparable injury" to Planned Parenthood providers and workers.

PHOTO: A logo sign outside the Planned Parenthood Gulf Freeway location is pictured on May 28, 2017 in Houston.
A logo sign outside the Planned Parenthood Gulf Freeway location is pictured on May 28, 2017 in Houston.
Tripplaar Kristoffer/Sipa USA via AP, FILE

"We are relieved that the Travis County district court has acted quickly to grant this restraining order against Texas Right to Life and anyone working with them as deputized enforcers of this draconian law," Helene Krasnoff, vice president for public policy litigation and law, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement. "This restraining order offers protection to the brave health care providers and staff at Planned Parenthood health centers throughout Texas, who have continued to offer care as best they can within the law while facing surveillance, harassment, and threats from vigilantes eager to stop them. But make no mistake: this is not enough relief for Texas. Planned Parenthood will continue fighting for the millions of Texans affected by S.B. 8., doing everything we can under the law to restore Texans' federal constitutional right to access abortion."

While Right to Life and its associates won't be able to sue under the restraining order, private citizens are still allowed to do so.

The law went into effect at midnight Wednesday after the Supreme Court failed to respond to abortion providers' request for an emergency injunction while the law is being challenged in courts. The Supreme Court later issued an unsigned order refusing to block the law that experts see as blatantly unconstitutional under Supreme Court precedent.

In the hours before the law went into effect, abortion providers in Texas raced to provide care for patients up until midnight. Meanwhile, anti-abortion protesters rallied outside.

Marva Sadler, Whole Woman's Health director of clinical services, told ABC News on Wednesday that walking out of the clinic in Fort Worth that night was "scary."

"We knew that there were protesters out on the sidewalk," she said. "We knew that they were watching our every move. We felt almost infiltrated, as if we were being set up."

While the law is in effect, it is continuing to be litigated.

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