Travis County District Judge Amy Clark Meachum issued a temporary restraining order against a pro-life group called Texas Right to Life and John Seago, who works for the group.
The order blocks the group from suing attorneys Michelle Simpson Tuegel and Allison Van Stean, and a group that helps women get abortions, under Senate Bill 8, which is slated to go into effect on Wednesday.
The bill, known as the Texas Heartbeat Act, enables private citizens to sue physicians who perform abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected. It also allows for civil action to be brought against any person who allegedly aided or abetted a violation of the law.
Tuegel, Van Stean, and The Bridge Collective filed a lawsuit last week, alleging that aiding and abetting was not defined by the bill and that she could be sued.
“By creating a private enforcement mechanism to enforce what is essentially a ban on abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, its proponents have created a framework that pits attorneys versus their own clients, invades the sacred space of attorney-client privilege and confidentiality, and severely restricts access to the courts for any person who dares to affirmatively challenge the law’s unconstitutionality,” the suit stated.
Plaintiffs also pointed out that Texas Right to Life announced it was planning to bring lawsuits once the bill goes into effect and asked the court to issue an order blocking the group and others from suing her.
“Plaintiff will suffer immediate and irreparable harm if the Injunctive Defendants are not enjoined from organizing and planning to bring lawsuits against Plaintiff and others like her who provide truthful advice and counsel to persons seeking abortions,” the suit said.
Meachum, a Democrat, agreed.
She entered the temporary restraining order against Texas Right to Life, Seago, and unnamed individuals who Texas Right to Life had said were prepared to file lawsuits under Senate Bill 8. They cannot sue the lawyers or the collective for now.
A hearing on the matter is scheduled for Sept. 13.
Tuegel did not respond to requests for comment.
Texas Right to Life said in a statement that the group “never threatened to sue” the plaintiffs.
“This ruling by a Travis County judge does not change Texas Right to Life’s plans. Texas Right to Life is still legally authorized to sue others who violate the Texas Heartbeat Act, including abortionists,” it said.
In a separate case, abortion providers on Monday asked the Supreme Court to intervene before the law takes effect. The emergency motion was filed in regards to Whole Woman’s Health v. Jackson after an appeals court shot down motions from the providers.
“In less than two days, Texas politicians will have effectively overturned Roe v. Wade,” Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, which is representing the plaintiffs, said in a statement. “We have filed an emergency motion in the Supreme Court to block this law before clinics are forced to turn patients away.”
Editor’s Note: This article was updated with more details after publication.