A Brazos County judge on Tuesday denied Planned Parenthood's effort Tuesday to block a former director of its Bryan clinic and an anti-abortion group from releasing details involving her eight years at the clinic.
Planned Parenthood asked for an injunction after concerns were raised once former director Abby Johnson made it public that she was working the Brazos Valley Coalition for Life, an anti-abortion group that regularly protests outside the Bryan clinic.
It isn't immediately clear what, if any, information Johnson plans to reveal. She said in an interview after the hearing that she was pleased with the ruling because it allowed her to speak more openly about her time at Planned Parenthood and the circumstances surrounding her departure.
District Judge J.D. Langley dissolved a temporary restraining order that prevented her from discussing such issues before Tuesday's hearing. The order would have expired at midnight Wednesday if no action had been taken.
The decision was made after almost two hours of testimony by Planned Parenthood employees and arguments by lawyers on each side. Lawyers for Planned Parenthood said that Johnson was aware of security procedures and business plans for the Bryan clinic. They also called witnesses who said they saw Johnson printing out medical records of two of her roommates.
The lawyers expressed concern that the identity of a doctor who occasionally performs abortions at the Bryan clinic had been revealed.
Jeff Paradowski, a Bryan lawyer who represents Johnson and the Coalition for Life, argued that security procedures could easily be changed if they were revealed. He said that the identity of doctors who work at the clinic can be found in other ways and the specific doctor mentioned by Planned Parenthood was an outspoken proponent of abortion who is known to perform the procedure.
Langley seemed to agree. "The thing that concerns me most is the accessing and copying two patients' medical records. Does that rise to the level of imminent harm?" Langley asked. "Given the testimony that these [records] involved people known to her and the circumstances made, I don't think that is enough to warrant the extreme remedy of injunctive relief."
About a half-dozen supporters sat directly behind Johnson. "Yes," one of them exclaimed, as Johnson turned to hug them. Officials for Planned Parenthood declined to comment immediately after the hearing. They said they would release a statement later in the day.