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First Lawsuit Against a Texas Abortion Provider Under New Law Is as Opportunistic & Awful as Expected

Abortion rights activists rally at the Texas State Capitol

A doctor in Texas is being sued for providing abortions in violation of the state’s extreme new abortion ban.

The first lawsuit against Dr. Alan Braid was filed Monday, with another following later in the day. The suits couldn’t have been a surprise for Braid. They came after the doctor published an op-ed in the Washington Post Saturday, explaining why he knowingly and deliberately violated the new law, known as SB 8, which bans abortions after about six weeks and deputizes private citizens, not the government, to enforce it.

Braid says that with this new law in place, “it is 1972 all over again.”

“And that is why, on the morning of Sept. 6, I provided an abortion to a woman who, though still in her first trimester, was beyond the state’s new limit. I acted because I had a duty of care to this patient, as I do for all patients, and because she has a fundamental right to receive this care,” he writes.

“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.”

The person that chose to challenge Braid is Oscar Stilley, a self-described “disbarred and disgraced former Arkansas lawyer” who checks all the expected boxes for this kind of suit. SB 8 does not require the plaintiff to have any connection whatsoever to anyone involved in the abortion being challenged, and indeed, Stilley has none.

It does not require the plaintiff to even live in Texas, and Stilley is currently serving a 15-year federal sentence for tax fraud in home confinement in Arkansas.

According to the Post, “Stilley said in an interview that he is not personally opposed to abortion but thinks the measure should be subject to judicial review.”

The paper quotes Stilley as saying, “If the law is no good, why should we have to go through a long, drawn-out process to find out if it’s garbage?”, adding, “Stilley also noted that a successful lawsuit could result in a ‘bounty’ of at least $10,000 for the plaintiff.” So Stilley is simply an opportunist, checking another one of those big boxes.

Stilley’s full complaint is bizarre. It opens by claiming Stilley believes “the government” trumped up the “baseless” charges against him in his own (completely unrelated) case more than a decade ago, and that he “remains confident that he will eventually receive total exoneration of all counts of conviction.”

The part of the complaint that actually has to do with Braid is full of references to “bastards,” the Texas prison system, and “Elohim.” If that sounds confusing, it’s because it is.

Here’s an example of Stilley’s odd argument:

“On information and belief, Defendant [Braid] believes that his Elohim (“mighty ones,” AKA “God” [sic] is entirely capable of giving a new body to replace a defective fetus, in the here and now, and not only ‘when you die bye and bye.’”

Speaking with the Daily Beast, Stilley called himself “a libertarian sorta fella” and again suggested he was as interested in challenging a terrible law as he is in cashing in on it. “I want a judgment on it,” he said. “I’d like to get this established—is this a valid enactment or is this garbage that needs to be thrown out?”

The constitutionality of the Texas law is being challenged on multiple fronts. In addition to Stilley’s case, the Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit against the state and has also asked a federal judge to temporarily block enforcement of SB 8. Separately, a judge has issued a restraining order against the anti-abortion group Texas Right to Life, preventing them from suing abortion providers employed by Planned Parenthood.

(image: Jordan Vonderhaar/Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.