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Arkansas man sues Texas doctor who admitted he violated state's strict new abortion law

The law allows private citizens to enforce the ban through lawsuits against abortion providers or others who help women get the procedure.
/ Source: NBC News

An Arkansas man sued a Texas abortion provider on Monday in what is believed to be the first lawsuit filed since the state's restrictive abortion law was enacted.

Oscar Stilley, a former lawyer who was convicted on federal tax evasion charges in 2009, filed the lawsuit against Alan Braid, a Texas doctor who publicly admitted to performing an abortion that was illegal under the new law — known as S.B. 8.

The law, which the Supreme Court declined to block from going into effect earlier this month, includes a provision that allows private citizens to sue abortion providers and, if successful, awards them $10,000.

Braid, a physician who provides abortion care in San Antonio, wrote in a Washington Post op-ed published Saturday that he violated the new Texas law on the morning of Sept. 6.

Braid said he “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 added, “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."

In 2009, Stilley was convicted on one count of conspiring to defraud the United States and two counts of tax evasion. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison and is currently finishing his sentence on home confinement, according to the filing.

In the lawsuit, Stilley refers to himself as a “disbarred and disgraced” former lawyer while also describing the charges he was convicted of as “utterly fraudulent."

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A medical assistant arranges tools for a procedure at the Whole Woman's Health abortion clinic in San Antonio, on Feb. 16, 2016.Matthew Busch / Bloomberg via Getty Images

Stilley claimed he called Braid’s office on Monday and asked if Braid would “repent of his ideology as well as his deeds,” but wasn’t able to “secure any such agreement despite respectful efforts,” according to the lawsuit.

Stilley, who is representing himself, is seeking $100,000 or at least the $10,000 minimum the Texas law requires be awarded for a successful suit.

Braid did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Over the weekend, however, the Center for Reproductive Rights issued a statement pledging to defend him against lawsuits.

"Dr. Braid has courageously stood up against this blatantly unconstitutional law. We stand ready to defend him against the vigilante lawsuits that S.B. 8 threatens to unleash against those providing or supporting access to constitutionally protected abortion care," Nancy Northup, the group's president and CEO said in the statement.

"For more than two weeks this unconscionable law has been in effect, harming numerous Texans, and falling hardest on those struggling to make ends meet and people of color, who already face barriers to health care. It’s past time for a court to step in and block it."

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