WASHINGTON — Abortion rights groups in Texas hope by filing a federal class action lawsuit they can resume supporting pregnant Texans who want to get the procedure out of state.
One point of contention is a more than century-old Texan abortion ban and whether it’s still enforceable today.
As of this month, there are three abortion bans Texans have to contend with after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. The fear of prosecution and punishment has been enough to deter reproductive rights groups in Texas from fundraising and covering the costs of out-of-state abortions and other travel expenses.
“It’s been really hard. It’s devastating, because not only are we not able to support people who we know, need and deserve it. But also we have to remain targets under a microscope by anti-abortion extremists,” Kamyon Conner, the Executive Director at Texas Equal Access Fund, told Spectrum News.
Earlier this month, The Texas Equal Access Fund joined other abortion funds and advocates and filed a federal class action lawsuit against the Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and other local district attorneys to get some clarity and legal protection.
“It’s sad that certain people have decided that the best way to obtain the political ends they want is to violate the constitutional rights of others. The rights to freedom of speech to spend your money, the ways that you feel are politically prudent, to travel back and forth,” Jennifer Ecklund, a partner at Thompson Coburn.
Paxton and other Texan Republicans say funding out-of-state abortions is punishable under a Texas law that dates back to the 1800s and makes it a crime to “furnish the means for procuring” one.
“The state legislature is the one who made those laws,” Rebecca Parma, senior legislative associate at Texas Right to Life, told Spectrum News. “And they are the only entity that can repeal those laws even though they went on unenforced for several decades. They’re back in effect now, because they were never explicitly repealed.”
Rep. Briscoe Cain, R-Texas, previously told Spectrum News that “no one has the right to pay for another person’s abortion.”
Some Republican state lawmakers indicated they’re willing to target abortion rights groups and companies paying for out-of-state abortions. They’re also exploring the option of empowering district attorneys to prosecute those outside of their jurisdiction.
“I think they don’t really care what happens to Texans, they really just want their ultimate anti-abortion agenda to win and succeed,” Conner said.
While the Justice Department says they’ll defend the right to travel to get abortions, the attorneys representing the Texas abortion funds expect a hearing on a preliminary injunction in the coming weeks.