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Texas doctor faces first suits under strict, new anti-abortion law

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A doctor in Texas was sued under the state’s new anti-abortion law on Monday after publicly revealing that he defied the near-total ban on performing the procedure to see whether it stands up in court.

Dr. Alan Baird of San Antonio became the first abortion provider to face legal action sparked by the law when he was slapped with separate suits filed by former lawyers in Arkansas and Illinois.

One of the plaintiffs said he wasn’t opposed to abortion but wanted to force a legal review of the controversial measure that went into effect on Sept. 1 and can only be enforced through civil litigation by private citizens.

“I don’t want doctors out there nervous and sitting there and quaking in their boots and saying, ‘I can’t do this because if this thing works out, then I’m going to be bankrupt,’” Oscar Stilley told The Associated Press.

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Dr. Alan Baird is facing two separate lawsuits for performing an abortion beyond the state’s legal pregnancy time limit.
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Former lawyer Oscar Stilley is one of the plaintiffs suing Baird.
Former lawyer Oscar Stilley is one of the plaintiffs suing Baird.
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Stilley, of Cedarville, Ark., said his law license was revoked over a 2010 conviction for tax fraud, AP said.

On Saturday, the Washington Post published an op-ed by Baird in which he acknowledged performing a Sept. 6 abortion on a woman who was in her first trimester of pregnancy but beyond the limit set by the new law.

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“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,” Braid wrote.

The new law in Texas bans abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy.
The new law in Texas bans abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy.
Photo by Jordan Vonderhaar/Getty Images

The Texas law, which was signed by Gov. Greg Abbott in May, bans abortions once medical workers can detect a fetal heartbeat, which is usually around six weeks after conception — and before some women even know they’re pregnant.

It explicitly forbids criminal prosecutions but allows people to file lawsuits through which they can recover at least $10,000 in damages from anyone involved in performing an illegal abortion, including someone who merely drives a woman to undergo the procedure.

Baird admitted in an op-ed that he defied the new law in giving a woman an abortion recently.
Baird admitted in an op-ed that he defied the new law in giving a woman an abortion recently.
Photo by Jordan Vonderhaar/Getty Images

Two federal suits have also been filed over the law, including one in which the US Justice Department is seeking to have it declared invalid on grounds it was enacted “in open defiance of the Constitution.”

The other pending case, filed by Planned Parenthood and others, led to a late-night, Sept. 1 ruling by the US Supreme Court, which voted 5-4 to deny an emergency appeal to prevent the law from taking effect.

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