BIG SPRING, TX — The former mayor of Big Spring has initiated legal action under the Texas Heartbeat Law against four individuals he suspects are performing or facilitating abortions in Texas. Shannon Thomason filed a civil Rule 202 petition with the 118th District Court in Howard County, Texas this past summer.
The petition demands that the court order four individuals, including a high profile abortion activist named Amy Hagstrom Miller, submit to be deposed. Miller is the Board President of Whole Women’s Health Alliance. Before the Texas Heartbeat Law went into effect in September 2021, and before the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last summer, Hagstrom Miller ran four abortion facilities in Texas. Those clinics are now closed.
Thomason believes Hagstrom Miller may have facilitated abortions performed on Texas women even since the clinics were shuttered — and when the Texas Heartbeat Law was in effect — and he wants to depose her to find out.
A San Antonio abortion doctor named Dr. Alan Baird is also on the list to be deposed in the court filing.
On September 18, 2021, The Washington Post published an opinion piece written by Dr. Braid under the title, “Why I violated Texas’s extreme abortion ban.” https://www.washingtonpost.com/opin…
In the opinion piece, Dr. Braid challenged, “Anyone who suspects I have violated the new law can sue me for at least $10,000.” He then describes a few situations where he provided an abortion to a Texas woman in violation of the Heartbeat Law.
Texas Senate Bill 8 went into effect on September 1, 2021 and is commonly called The Texas Heartbeat Law. The US Supreme Court effectively upheld the Heartbeat Law when it refused to enjoin the enforcement of SB 8. The law says any pregnancy in which a heartbeat is detected cannot be aborted. That effectively means that if you’re six weeks pregnant, you cannot have an abortion in Texas. Pro-abortion advocates argue that many women do not know they are pregnant at six weeks, so the law effectively eliminates all elective abortions in Texas.
The law incorporates a civil penalty that is an incentive for Texans to enforce the law. Any private Texas citizen can sue an abortion provider or anyone else they suspect is “aiding and abetting” an abortion after that six-week mark. However, the mother seeking an abortion in Texas can’t be sued; only the provider can, or any person who drives that individual to an abortion facility, or the referring counselor, or anyone who aids the mother in any way in getting the abortion, can be sued. The state law sets the maximum penalty at $10,000 that is awarded the petitioner. In this Howard County case, should Thomason actually file a lawsuit after reviewing the depositions, and he wins, he could be awarded $10,000.
According to court records, Hagstrom Miller was served on January 6, 2023. She was found in Charlottesville, Virginia. Marva Sadler, who worked for Dr. Baird was also served. Baird’s daughter, Andrea Gallegos, who purportedly worked at Baird’s San Antonio clinic has not been found. Neither has her father.
Thomason’s attorney is Jonathan F. Mitchell of Austin. Mitchell, the former Solicitor General of Texas from 2010 until 2015, was the attorney who drafted the Sanctuary City for the Unborn ordinances that have been voted into law across west Texas, from Lubbock to Abilene and San Angelo. Before these mid-sized cities adopted the ordinances, smaller municipalities like Big Spring in Howard County became sanctuary cities first. Thomason was the mayor of Big Spring when the ordinance was enacted in January 2020.
So far, the four individuals named in the court filings have ignored the district court. According to court records, Hagstrom Miller was asked to respond by January 30 and she hasn’t. The four named in the court action do not even have an attorney who would be representing them named on the court docket.
Thomason, who lost his bid for re-election as Big Spring mayor May 2022 to retired district judge Robert H Moore III, said he was willing to be a plaintiff in this case when asked. Thomason has been involved in conservative political activism for years. In 2014, he ran an unsuccessful campaign to unseat State Rep. Drew Darby.
Mitchell has been front and center in the national abortion debate. Most recently, he and a colleague urged the Supreme Court to overrule Roe v. Wade in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the case where the high court eliminated Roe v. Wade and the national legality of abortion. The Dobbs brief was one of eight principal merits briefs Mitchell has authored and filed with the U.S. Supreme Court.
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