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Protesters hold up signs at a protest outside the Texas state capitol on May 29, 2021 in Austin, Texas. Thousands of protesters came out in response to a new bill outlawing abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected signed on Wednesday by Texas Governor Greg Abbot. Photo: Sergio Flores via Getty Images

Abortion rights advocates and providers filed a federal lawsuit on Tuesday to block a new Texas law that incentivizes private citizens to help enforce the state's ban on abortions at six weeks of pregnancy.

Why it matters: Several states have signed into law restrictive abortion bans. But the Texas law, which is set to take effect in September, also empowers individuals to sue anyone who helps a person get an abortion and awards at least $10,000 to those with successful court challenges.

  • Abortion patients cannot be sued under state law, but suits can target people who provide financial assistance, drive a patient to an abortion clinic or counsel a pregnant person as a religious leader, according to the lawsuit.
  • The lawsuit, filed by the Center for Reproductive Rights, Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of several groups, argues that the Texas law is unconstitutional.

What they're saying: "If this oppressive law takes effect, it will decimate abortion access in Texas—and that’s exactly what it is designed to do," Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a statement.

  • "The state has put a bounty on the head of any person or entity who so much as gives a patient money for an abortion after six weeks of pregnancy, before most people know they are pregnant," Northup added. "Worse, it will intimidate loved ones from providing support for fear of being sued."
  • "We will pursue every legal avenue we can to block this and other pernicious laws."

Worth noting: The provision for court challenges has also led to backlash from state attorneys.

Go deeper

Top Democrat predicts "nastiness" for Florida's 2022 legislative session

The Florida Capitol. Photo: Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Nothing about Florida's current political discourse would lead you to believe that our representatives are nearing something resembling peace and understanding — and that's not changing anytime soon.

What's happening: State Rep. Evan Jenne, the House Democratic caucus' co-leader, expects a "knock-down, drag-out" legislative session next year, full of "nastiness and controversy" ahead of the 2022 midterms, per Florida Politics.

Civil rights groups sue Oklahoma over law banning critical race theory

The Oklahoma state Capitol in Oklahoma City. Photo: Visions of America/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

A group of civil rights organizations is suing Oklahoma over a law that restricts discussion of race and gender in public schools.

Why it matters: The law is one of several Republican-led attempts to ban critical race theory (CRT), a concept that links racial discrimination to the nation's foundations and legal system.

White House blasts Texas bill targeting trans youth in sports as "hateful"

LGBTQ rights supporters gather at the Texas State Capitol to protest state Republican-led efforts to pass legislation that would restrict the participation of transgender student athletes. Photo: Tamir Kalifa/Getty Images

A White House spokesperson on Tuesday condemned a Texas bill that would force public school students to play on sports teams based on their assigned sex at birth, telling the Dallas Morning News the legislation is "hateful."

Why it matters: If passed, Texas would become the 10th state in the country to enact legislation banning transgender kids from playing on sports teams that match their gender identity, per NBC News.