(LUBBOCK, TX) – Lubbock County District Attorney Matt Powell agreed last week not to enforce controversial new restrictions on abortions until a judge rules on the constitutionality of the state law.
Powell and other prosecutors across Texas were named as defendants in a federal lawsuit by Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas Surgical Health Services. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott is also named as a defendant.
Powell told EverythingLubbock.com, "My feelings are very strong against abortion."
"We'll enforce this law if it's deemed constitutional," Powell added.
On September 27, Planned Parenthood filed a claim that the law – known as House Bill 2 – is unconstitutional. One reason, according to the lawsuit, is that the law requires abortion doctors to have privileges to admit patients at a hospital within 30 miles of the location of the abortion.
The complaint said, “The Act imposes medically unwarranted and burdensome requirements that will dramatically reduce access to abortion in Texas.”
It also said if portions of the law take effect on October 29, “… More than one-third of the state’s licensed abortion facilities will be forced to stop offering abortions altogether, eliminating services entirely in Fort Worth, Harlingen, Killeen, Lubbock, McAllen, and Waco.”
Planned Parenthood agreed to drop local prosecutors from the lawsuit, including Powell, on certain conditions.
An agreement last week said, “The Local Prosecutor Defendants … agree not to criminally prosecute any individual or entity for a violation of any provision of House Bill 2…” Prosecutors also agreed to obey any injunctions that a federal judge might impose.
In exchange local prosecutors “shall not be liable for any award of attorneys’ fees, costs, or other monetary damages in this case.”
The agreement covers not only the lawsuit itself but any appeals as well. Powell thinks getting involved in the lawsuit at this time would cost Lubbock County a six-figure amount of money.
Powell said, "Why spend the money just to have some judge tell you not to [enforce the law]?"