Texas man accuses three women of helping his wife obtain an illegal abortion: NPR

Abortion rights supporters demonstrate at the Texas Capitol on September 11, 2021 in Austin, Texas.

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Jordan Vonderhaar/Getty Images

Abortion rights supporters demonstrate at the Texas Capitol on September 11, 2021 in Austin, Texas.

Jordan Vonderhaar/Getty Images

A Texas man has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against three of his ex-wife’s friends for allegedly helping her obtain pills used to induce an abortion last year.

The lawsuit seeks more than $1 million from each of the three defendants and an injunction prohibiting them from “distributing abortion pills.” The woman who obtained the abortion is not a defendant in the suit.

It is believed to be the first such case since the Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization Last June’s decision overturned decades of abortion rights precedent, allowing laws that criminalize abortion to take effect across the country.

The plaintiff, Marcus A. Silva of Galveston County, Texas, alleges that his then-wife discovered she was pregnant in July 2022 and tried to hide the pregnancy and self-inflicted abortion from him. According to the lawsuit filed in state court, the couple divorced in February of this year.

The lawsuit relies heavily on information contained in text messages exchanged between Silva’s ex-wife and her friends, the three defendants, last year. In the messages included as exhibits in the file, the women discuss different ways to obtain abortion pills and the logistics involved in self-administering an abortion at home.

In one exchange, one of the friends says to the pregnant woman: “You can do it at home. We can take the day off and do it in my place if you want.”

In another message, the woman expresses gratitude to her friends, telling one of them, “your help means the world to me” and adding that she felt “so lucky to have you.”

Silva’s lead attorney is Jonathan Mitchell, who is known for designing the legal strategy behind Senate Bill 8, the only abortion ban in Texas that went into effect in 2021 after the Supreme Court of the United States refused to block. This law, implemented months before the Dobbs decision, he broke federal precedent by employing what opponents describe as a “bounty hunter” system. It allows private citizens to sue anyone believed to be involved in helping a patient obtain an illegal abortion in Texas for tens of thousands of dollars.

But this case takes a different and perhaps more aggressive strategy by referring instead to the state’s wrongful death, murder, and anti-abortion statutes. The lawsuit describes assisting an abortion in Texas as an “act of murder” and notes that the abortion was performed after Dobbs sentence, arguing that it was not protected by any federal precedent.

He repeatedly describes the abortion as the “murder” of Silva’s “unborn child” with “illegally obtained pills.” The suit also claims the friends “conspired” with the pregnant woman to secretly terminate her pregnancy.

The suit specifically notes that Silva’s ex-wife is “exempt from civil and criminal liability and Marcus is not pursuing any claims against her.” Following on from Dobbs, the question of whether people who have abortions should be targeted for prosecution has been an ongoing subject of speculation and sometimes debate among abortion rights opponents, although many major anti-abortion groups have taken a public stance opposed to the persecution of the patients themselves.

In a statement, former Texas State Senator Wendy Davis, a senior adviser to Planned Parenthood Texas Votes, said abortion rights activists are “outraged, but we are not surprised” and accused anti-abortion groups to use the courts “as a tool”. of fear and intimidation”.

The lawsuit comes as a federal judge in north Texas considers a separate lawsuit filed by anti-abortion rights groups seeking to force the Food and Drug Administration to remove mifepristone, a drug used in most Abortion medications in the United States, off the market. A competing lawsuit filed by a group of Democratic state attorneys general seeks to preserve access by prohibiting the FDA from removing the drug.

Access to medication abortion has increasingly become the focus of litigation and legislation surrounding the fight for abortion rights in the United States. This is largely due to its increasing use by patients seeking abortions; more than half of abortions in the United States are now using pills, and pills are often more affordable than surgical procedures for people living in states with restrictive abortion laws.

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