A county judge awarded Planned Parenthood a small victory in its battle over Texas' six-week abortion ban by granting a temporary restraining order against Texas Right to Life on Friday. Under the order, the anti-abortion rights group is banned from "instituting private-enforcement lawsuits" against the pro-abortion rights organization, as well as its doctors and staff.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, signed the state's so-called heartbeat act into law in May, and it went into effect on Wednesday after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to stop it. Under the legislation, abortions cannot be performed past six weeks, and residents of the state can sue clinics, doctors, nurses and even people who drive a woman to get the procedure for at least $10,000.
The Travis County judge found that the new law, officially titled Senate Bill 8, "creates a probable, irreparable, and imminent injury" to Planned Parenthood while, on the other hand, Texas Right to Life would not be harmed if it was restrained from enforcing the law.
Now, with the restraining order in place, Texas Right to Life's actions are limited. Within the past two days, the group had created a website where people could leave information anonymously about "aiding or abetting a post-heartbeat abortion." And it had set its sights on expanding abortion bans to other states, saying that it "hopes to replicate our success across the nation."
The group responded to the judge's order on Twitter, noting that the order only applies to those working with the organization. "The order from the Travis Co Judge DOES NOT stop other individuals not associated or working with TRTL from suing," the group wrote.
Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood wrote in a tweet after the abortion ban went into effect: "We aren't backing down and are still fighting. Everyone deserves access to abortion. #BansOffOurBodies"
"To be clear: Planned Parenthood health centers remain open, and we are here to help Texans navigate this dangerous law," President of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, Alexis McGill Johnson, wrote Wednesday. "We will continue to fight in the courts for abortion rights and access."
The restraining order lasts until Sept. 17. Another court hearing is scheduled for Sept. 13.