A lawsuit that could test the constitutionality of the nation’s most restrictive abortion ban was filed in Texas Monday against a doctor who admitted to performing an abortion considered illegal under the new law.

The details of the civil suit against Alan Braid, a physician in San Antonio, are as unusual as the law itself, which empowers private citizens to enforce the ban on abortion once cardiac activity has been detected – often as early as six weeks into pregnancy.

Braid stepped forward last week to say that he provided an abortion to a woman who was in the early stages of pregnancy, but beyond the state’s limit. Despite the risks, Braid said he acted because of his duty as a doctor and “because she has a fundamental right to receive this care.”

“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,” he wrote in a column in The Washington Post.

On Monday, an Arkansas man said he decided to file a lawsuit to test the constitutionality of the Texas measure after reading a news report about Braid’s declaration. Oscar Stilley, a former lawyer convicted of tax fraud in 2010, said he is not personally opposed to abortion, but believes that the measure should be subject to judicial review.

“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?” Stilley said in an interview after filing the complaint in state court in Bexar County, Texas, which includes San Antonio.

He also noted that a successful lawsuit could result in an award in court of at least $10,000 for the plaintiff.

“If the state of Texas decided it’s going to give a $10,000 bounty, why shouldn’t I get that 10,000 bounty?” said Stilley, who is currently serving his 15-year federal sentence on home confinement.

That the first legal challenge to the Texas law came from a convicted felon in Arkansas was somewhat surprising. The antiabortion group Texas Right to Life has been gathering anonymous tips about potential violations, but had not yet filed a lawsuit – in part because abortion providers and clinics said they were complying with the law. The group has also been temporarily barred by state court decisions from suing certain providers in parts of the state.

Braid, whose clinics are represented by the Center for Reproductive Rights, declined to comment through the legal organization.

“S.B. 8 says that ‘any person’ can sue over a violation, and we are starting to see that happen, including by out-of-state claimants,” Marc Hearron, the group’s senior counsel, said in a statement.

The Texas law took effect Sept. 1 and was designed to avoid judicial scrutiny by barring state officials, who would typically be the target of lawsuits, from enforcing the ban.

Instead, private citizens are charged with enforcing the ban by filing civil lawsuits against anyone who helps a woman get an abortion.

Abortion providers sued to try to stop the law, saying it is at odds with the Supreme Court’s landmark Roe v. Wade decision guaranteeing a right to abortion before viability, usually around 22 to 24 weeks into pregnancy.

But the high court allowed the measure to stand while litigation continues.

In a 5-4 order, the court’s conservative majority said that initial legal challenge raised “serious questions” about the constitutionality of the law. But the justices said opponents, who sued state judges and court clerks, had not clearly shown that their lawsuit targeted the right people because government officials cannot enforce the law.

Separately, the Biden administration sued the state of Texas this month to block the law. A judge in Austin has set a hearing in that case for Oct. 1.

Until Braid’s public admission, abortion clinics in Texas said they were abiding by the new restrictions and sending women to Oklahoma, Kansas and New Mexico to terminate their pregnancies. The law bars abortion at a time when many women do not yet realize they are pregnant. There are no exceptions in the law for rape, sexual abuse or incest.

Braid, who owns Alamo Women’s Reproductive Services, said in his column that since the law took effect, he has discussed with patients how they might access abortion services in another state.

He advised one woman, who is 42 with four children, to travel to Oklahoma – a nine-hour drive one way – and offered to help with funding.

“She told me she couldn’t go even if we flew her in a private jet,” he wrote. “‘Who’s going to take care of my kids?’ she asked me. ‘What about my job? I can’t miss work.’ “

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