On Monday, two former attorneys filed lawsuits against a Texas doctor, Dr. Alan Braid, who wrote in an opinion piece in The Washington Post that he had violated the state's new law.
"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," Braid wrote in the op-ed. "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."
Nancy Northup — president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, the organization representing Braid — told CNN that Braid was called to challenge the law's legality because it's "creating havoc on reproductive health care in Texas" and providing his patients alternatives to abortion that are "untenable."
The two lawsuits against Braid were filed separately by Oscar Stilley of Arkansas and Felipe Gomez of Illinois. Neither opposes abortion rights but have instead said they want to provide a chance for the courts to weigh in on the constitutionality of the law, according to The Associated Press.
John Seago, head of Texas Right to Life, emphasized in a statement to CNN that neither suit was filed "from the pro-life movement" and called the suits "self-serving legal stunts."
Legal experts told the AP that Braid's case represents another test of the law following the Supreme Court's vote.
"Being sued puts him in a position ... that he will be able to defend the action against him by saying the law is unconstitutional," Carol Sanger, a law professor at Columbia University in New York City, told the outlet.
Texas' law, which took effect this month, bans abortions after a "fetal heartbeat" is detected, which can be as early as six weeks into a pregnancy.
"No freedom is more precious than life itself," Texas Gov. Greg Abbott tweeted after signing the bill into law. "Starting today, every unborn child with a heartbeat will be protected from the ravages of abortion."
But medical experts have said term "fetal heartbeat" is misleading, NPR reports. They said the term actually refers to a sound made by an ultrasound machine that's triggered by a group of cells "initiating some electrical activity," not an actual heartbeat.
"When I use a stethoscope to listen to an (adult) patient's heart, the sound that I'm hearing is caused by the opening and closing of the cardiac valves," Dr. Nisha Verma, an OB-GYN who specializes in abortion care and works at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, said, according to NPR. "At six weeks of gestation, those valves don't exist."
Texas' abortion law is the most restrictive in the country, The New York Times reports. While other states have attempted to pass similar laws, they have faced legal challenges. It also took effect despite the 1973 Roe v. Wade landmark Supreme Court decision that said women have the right to choose to have an abortion.
President Joe Biden has said the Texas law violates the Constitution and promised to protect and defend the right to abortion established by Roe v. Wade.(c)2021 The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.