Judge blocks Texas Right to Life's enforcement of heartbeat law, GoDaddy shuts down website

AP Photo/Eric Schultz

A Texas state judge blocked Texas Right to Life and its associates from suing abortion providers and workers at Planned Parenthood clinics Friday. A temporary restraining order was issued and is set to expire in two weeks.

The Texas heartbeat law was signed by Governor Abbott in May and went into effect on September 1. The Supreme Court refused to stop the bill from going into effect. Pro-abortion supporters vowed to oppose the law and the media has been happy to do their bidding since Wednesday. Judge Maya Guerra Gamble of Texas 459th District Court, a Democrat who was elected in 2018 and assumed office in January 2019, sided with Planned Parenthood. The bill outlaws abortion after six weeks when a fetal heartbeat is detected, and it allows private individuals to sue a person for helping in any way with the abortion – including doctors, staff at clinics, and anyone who pays for abortion or provides transportation to the clinic. In other words, instead of lawsuits against the state or public officials, individuals are held accountable. This is what makes the Texas bill unique.

“The Court finds that S.B. 8 creates a probable, irreparable, and imminent injury in the interim for which plaintiffs and their physicians, staff and patients throughout Texas have no adequate remedy at law if plaintiffs, their physicians, and staff are subjected to private enforcement lawsuits against them under S.B. 8,” Gamble wrote.

Planned Parenthood welcomed Friday’s ruling in the face of what it described as a “draconian law,” which prohibits abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, around six weeks of pregnancy

“This restraining order offers protection to the brave health care providers and staff at Planned Parenthood health centers throughout Texas, who have continued to offer care as best they can within the law while facing surveillance, harassment, and threats from vigilantes eager to stop them,” Helene Krasnoff of Planned Parenthood Federation of America said in a statement.

“But make no mistake: this is not enough relief for Texas,” she continued. “Planned Parenthood will continue fighting for the millions of Texans affected by S.B. 8., doing everything we can under the law to restore Texans’ federal constitutional right to access abortion.”

Pro-abortion groups have a friend in Joe Biden. Yesterday as he blasted the Texas law and the “vigilantes” it creates, he said he does not believe life begins at conception. He’s a devout Catholic, you know. In 2012, he said during a debate with Republican vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan that he did believe life begins at conception but yesterday he said the opposite. In 2012 Biden said, “With regard to abortion, I accept my church’s position on abortion as a, what we call, a de fide doctrine. Life begins at conception in the church’s judgment. I accept it in my personal life.” During a press conference yesterday, Biden said, “I respect people who think that—who don’t support Roe v. Wade. I respect their views. I respect them, those who believe life begins at the moment of conception and all. I respect that. Don’t agree, but I respect that.” What changed? Maybe the millions of dollars that Planned Parenthood contributes to Democrats every election cycle? The Big Guy always gets 10%, we’ve been told by Hunter.

I admit I’m not comfortable with the process of turning individuals into criminals for driving someone to a clinic or being a third party to abortion by providing financial assistance but I understand why the bill was written as it was. Legal challenges will continue and the bill will likely be struck down. A whistleblower website was set up by Texas Right to Life and the web host GoDaddy shut it down. A new website host has been found, though.

On Friday, Texas Right to Life had to find a new home on the web, because hosting provider GoDaddy gave the group 24 hours to find a different place to park its website. “We have informed prolifewhistleblower.com they have 24 hours to move to another provider for violating our terms of service,” a spokesperson told The New York Times and The Verge.

By late Friday, it appears it found that home: Epik, the provider that also helped save controversial sites Gab, social media platform Parler, and internet hate forum 8chan when other web service providers wouldn’t take them, is now listed as the registrar for prolifewhistleblower.com as well. The site is still having some trouble staying online though: as of 4AM ET Saturday, we saw HTTP 503 error codes when trying to access it.

GoDaddy originally The Verge that the whistleblower site violated “multiple provisions” of the site’s Terms of Service including Section 5.2, which reads:

You will not collect or harvest (or permit anyone else to collect or harvest) any User Content (as defined below) or any non-public or personally identifiable information about another User or any other person or entity without their express prior written consent.

Pro-abortion supporters flooded the original website in hopes of crashing it with phony whistleblower tips. Texas Right to Life said it was prepared and had backup resources for getting back on the internet. Texas Right to Life, powered by conservative Texas women, has been in this fight for a very long time. It should not be surprising that they came prepared for what was certain to be the response from the pro-abortion side.

The Texas Medical Association is weighing in. Though they claim to not enter political arguments, we know that isn’t exactly the case from past performance. For example, they have been very vocal on mandates during the coronavirus pandemic and many of its members also joined in marches for Black Lives Matter during the Summer of Love. The organization is now using the word ‘vigilante’ used by Joe Biden on Friday. Probably just a coincidence, right?

Leaders for the Texas Medical Association, which represents more than 55,000 physicians and medical students across the state, said Friday they oppose both the new law and a proposal awaiting Gov. Greg Abbott’s signature to further restrict access to abortion-inducing medication.

“Clearly these provisions are unconstitutional, in our opinion,” said Dr. E. Linda Villarreal, the group’s president, and Dr. Rick Snyder II, chairman of the board of trustees, in a joint statement. “Enough is enough.”

“The physicians of Texas never thought the day would come when the performance of our oath would create a private cause of action for persons not connected to or harmed by the action,” Villarreal and Snyder said in the statement. “If permitted to proceed, this law will be precedent-setting and could normalize vigilante interference in the patient-physician relationship in other complex, controversial medical or ethical situations.”

The association also is taking issue with Senate Bill 4, a proposal passed by lawmakers during the summer’s second special session that would create a state jail felony offense for physicians who prescribe abortion-inducing medication to patients without first conducting an in-person examination.

Texas law already prohibits the delivery of abortion-inducing drugs to a patient through the mail or by a delivery service, but there is no criminal charge associated with violations.

The bill also prohibits providers from giving the medication to patients who are more than seven weeks pregnant. Current law provides access for up to 10 weeks of pregnancy.

S.B.8 does not end abortion in Texas. Roe v Wade is still in effect in Texas. Abortion pills – like what is called the Morning After pill – are still available to women through doctors, but not through the mail. The overwrought hysteria over this bill was expected. As mentioned above, the temporary restraining order against Texas Right to Life is due to expire in two weeks. However, the judge also announced a September 13 hearing so that could lead to an extension of the pause on Texas Right to Life’s enforcement authority.