The abortion industry has predictably filed a preemptive lawsuit attempting to stop the Texas Heartbeat Act from taking effect on September 1. Senate Bill 8, passed during the Regular Session of the 87th Texas Legislature, would ban abortion when the preborn child’s heartbeat is detectable (as early as six weeks) and is enforced entirely through private individuals bringing lawsuits against the abortion industry to hold them accountable to following the law. The state government is not involved in the enforcement of this unique Pro-Life law. However, the abortion industry is also using this lawsuit as a tool to bully a private Pro-Life activist, Mark Lee Dickson.
The lawsuit, filed in federal district court, includes two dozen plaintiffs, ranging from abortion clinics and abortionists themselves to organizations that promote abortion through funding or other logistical means. The lawsuit was filed against representatives from a range of organizations and agencies who may be involved in a case brought under the Texas Heartbeat Act, which is completely hypothetical at this point because the law is not yet in effect. Among the defendants listed, most are serving in some sort of official public capacity (the Attorney General of Texas and the Executive Director of the Texas Medical Board as examples).
However, among these eight defendants, only one is not serving in a public capacity. Mark Lee Dickson is the only private citizen specifically named and targeted in this lawsuit for his Pro-Life activism.
Dickson is the Director of Right to Life of East Texas (not affiliated with Texas Right to Life). He is a leading figure in the Sanctuary City for the Unborn movement sweeping across Texas, and Texas Right to Life has partnered with him on this initiative since 2019. He has been instrumental in the efforts to pass these local ordinances that ban abortions and prevent abortion providers from setting up shop in local jurisdictions, and now thirty cities in Texas alone have passed the ordinance and declared themselves as Safe Havens for their preborn citizens.
Because of his tireless Pro-Life work and unapologetic stance for Life, Mark Lee Dickson has been singled out as a target by the abortion industry in the lawsuit to cripple SB 8. The lawsuit seeks to prohibit his specific involvement in enforcing the new law in any way. The abortion industry is suing him merely because Dickson has been public about his intent to ensure the abortion industry follows the new law and ordinances – and to assist other Pro-Life citizens in doing so as well.
There is no sound legal reason for the abortion industry to name Dickson in this lawsuit. They have no standing to sue one individual Pro-Life Texan because the relief they seek will not remedy what they argue is their injury. If Dickson is enjoined from filing any lawsuits under SB 8, another private Texan could still do so, thus there is no legal reason to go after him. The real motivation behind targeting Dickson? Pure bully tactics. The abortion industry wants to make an example of him, to frighten Pro-Life activists lest they become too successful or vocal, and the target of future lawsuits.
Until the law is in effect, fears of expensive lawsuits are hypothetical. And as of September 1 (when SB 8 goes into effect), Dickson will be fully within his rights provided by SB 8 to bring such a lawsuit if a violation occurs. This is yet another attempt by profit-hungry abortion giants to intimidate Pro-Life activists, thwart life-saving laws, and continue to financially benefit from the deaths of preborn babies.
Clearly, abortion industry leaders are desperate to keep the Texas Heartbeat Act from affecting their bottom lines. Texas’s new law has left them confused as to how to respond, and the haphazard nature of the lawsuit highlights the innovative nature of SB 8’s enforcement mechanism. Texas Right to Life commends Mark Lee Dickson for his ongoing efforts to advance the Pro-Life movement across our State and we look forward to continuing to partner with him. We are confident that because of the creative and intentional drafting of the Texas Heartbeat Act, the lawsuit will be dismissed and SB 8 will begin saving countless preborn lives on September 1.