October 27, 2023
Local Highway Ordinances Put Texans at Risk, Create Culture of Fear
TEXAS – The cruel masterminds behind SB 8 have been helping local city and county governments pass highly likely unconstitutional ordinances (city/local laws). These laws allow any person to sue someone they suspect of helping an abortion seeker that drives through the city or county while traveling for an out-of-state abortion. These ordinances are likely unconstitutional, and the anti-abortion extremists drafting them and pitching them to local governments, who should know they are unconstitutional.
Anti-abortion extremists are once again relying on scare tactics, such as threats of legal action, surveillance, or harassment, to intimidate people seeking care and the people who help them. Sowing more fear, lack of safety, inability to make autonomous decisions, and confusion, is at the heart of these bills. The anti-abortion extremists behind these ordinances are using deceptive language like “abortion trafficking” to co-opt legitimate concerns, such as trafficking, in an attempt to frame the act of aiding abortion seekers as coercive and deplorable, rather than empathetic and compassionate. At the same time, these ordinances serve to encourage any person to stalk, investigate, and harass someone they suspect of seeking an abortion, which is especially dangerous for the most vulnerable abortion seekers, including people in abusive relationships, minors, and Black, Indigenous and other persons of color.
Anna Rupani, Executive Director of Fund Texas Choice, said:
“As the first practical support organization in the state, we are acutely aware of how far and wide Texans have to travel to access their abortion. Texas lawmakers’ insistence on policing individuals’ reproductive healthcare by banning the use of roads, assumes that Texans are not deserving or able to make their own decisions over their bodies. The people who draft and pitch these ‘use of road abortion bans’ to local governments want to instill fear, cause confusion, and increase surveillance among Texans; this is a vile attempt to prevent people from seeking legal abortion care out of state. Attempting to restrict the right to travel is mean and cruel; it results in pregnant people having fewer rights in Texas depending on what county they live in and creates unequal footing for pregnant people. People have the right to freely move across the state and country under the 14th amendment; creating these laws shows how far anti-abortion extremists are willing to go in violating the Constitution. It also means that some people have different rights depending on where they live, which is antithetical to the notion of equal rights under the law.”
Texans seeking abortions already face unconscionable barriers to care under Texas’ draconian total abortion ban. Just this year, Fund Texas Choice’s clients have had to travel an astonishing average of 1,656 miles round trip to access their abortions, which often means driving through the state and on state roadways, to get to their appointment. The anti-abortion activists who draft and pitch these ordinances to local governments are clearly targeting the border of Texas and New Mexico, in an attempt to stop Texans from seeking care in the nearest state with abortion access. This in turn makes traveling for health care even more confusing, traumatizing, and scary for abortion seekers.
Texas is incredibly hostile to people who need abortion care. Fund Texas Choice will continue helping Texans access legal abortion care out of state and will continue to fight for Texans’ right to access abortions without fear of investigation, surveillance, or violence.
September 28, 2023
Anti-Abortion Extremists Want the Names of Clients and Donors
The architect of the Texas abortion bans wants a court to force abortion funds and an abortion provider to hand over the private information of thousands of people.
AUSTIN — On Tuesday, plaintiffs in Fund Texas Choice v. Paxton filed a motion for a protective order to keep the names of clients, staff, and donors out of the hands of an extreme anti-abortion lawyer and his group of supposed civil “bounty hunters.”
On September 12, architect of SB8, Jonathan Mitchell, served discovery requests on nine Texas abortion funds and Texas physician Dr. Ghazaleh Moayedi, DO, MPH. The requests demand private, personal information, including names of clients, staff, and board members. They also want information about anyone who has ever donated to or received support from a Texas abortion fund.
Mitchell’s requests threaten the private information of thousands of people in and out of Texas and across the country. The anti-abortion extremists are trying to use legal processes, like discovery in a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of SB8, to get names and information that would enable private citizens to bring harassing lawsuits under that very law, which created a “bounty-hunting” scheme to sue anyone who helps Texans get abortions.
The First Amendment guarantees the right to associate, speak, and petition the government, and protects the information Mitchell and his clients wish to obtain. Fund Texas Choice intends to fight, like we always do, to protect those rights, including the rights to organize, speak out, support, and donate money for reproductive justice and abortion access. While it’s not surprising that anti-abortion activists would attempt to misuse the judicial system in this way, it is an obvious attempt to scare people out of seeking legal abortions out of state, and to chill their constitutional rights.
In addition to being the legal mind behind abortion bounty-hunting, Mitchell also spends his time representing a “serial emotional abuser” who is suing his ex-wife’s friends for allegedly helping her access an abortion. People seeking abortions are supposed to be protected from civil and criminal liability under Texas abortion bans, but Mitchell and his clients are still finding ways to investigate, harass, and intimidate abortion seekers and the people who support them.
Statement from Anna Rupani, Executive Director, Fund Texas Choice:
“Jonathan Mitchell’s brazen discovery requests are a direct violation of our rights to privacy, free speech, and confidential medical care. We have fought to protect personal information related to our clients, staff, and supporters from ever being handed over to anti-abortion extremists under any circumstances, and we will continue to do so. This desire to obtain private, confidential information is meant to harass and intimidate, but rest assured, we will not stand for it. Anti-abortion extremists are trying to scare you and us, but let’s be clear – we will never stop fighting for Texans’ right to access care from our organizations.”
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The plaintiffs in Fund Texas Choice v. Paxton are Fund Texas Choice, TEA Fund, Frontera Fund , Lilith Fund, West Fund, Clinic Access Support Network (CASN), The Afiya Center, Buckle Bunnies, Jane’s Due Process, and Dr. Ghazaleh Moayedi, DO, MPH.
February 27, 2023
Federal Ruling Protects Texas Abortion Funds’ Ability to Pay for Out-of-State Abortions and Travel
Victory for abortion advocates: Paxton cannot prosecute abortion funds or healthcare providers for assisting Texans with out-of-state abortions, federal injunction protects plaintiffs against criminalization
TEXAS — Today, plaintiffs in a pro-abortion lawsuit released a statement in response to a federal ruling issued by U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman on February 24th, indicating that Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton cannot enforce the state’s abortion ban on abortions that are obtained outside state lines — allowing abortion funds to provide financial assistance to Texans seeking an abortion out of state and allowing Texas healthcare providers to continue caring for Texans without fear of criminal prosecution.
Joint statement from Texas Abortion Funds and Practical Support Organizations, plaintiffs in the lawsuit:
“No extremist, anti-abortion politician should be able to prevent Texans from leaving the state to seek abortion care. All Texans deserve the right to control their reproductive lives and futures. The state’s abortion ban has had devastating impacts on all pregnant Texans, especially on our hotline callers, who are mostly working people, people of color, and young people. Texans should be able to access abortion care in their own communities when they need it without delay, and we’re looking forward to supporting Texans who are forced to leave the state to access abortion.”
Dr. Ghazaleh Moayedi, abortion provider and plaintiff, said:
“Abortion care is a necessary part of healthy pregnancies and thriving communities – every Texan deserves timely access to abortion care. As an OB/GYN and a Texas-based abortion provider, I know all abortion bans are medically unnecessary, imprecise tools of reproductive oppression that harm the people I care for. I’m proud to provide full-spectrum reproductive healthcare, even when that means leaving the state to continue caring for my neighbors. This ruling helps me continue providing healthcare for people in other states without fear of criminalization at home. As long as Texans’ rights to abortion are withheld, abortion providers will continue to fight for a Texas that puts patient care first.”
The lawsuit challenged the state’s authority to go after individuals, organizations, and businesses that help pregnant Texans obtain an abortion outside the state. Plaintiffs filed in August of last year a few days before HB1280, better known as the Trigger Ban, went into effect.
Elizabeth Myers, partner at Thompson & Coburn, LLP, who represents the abortion funds and provider, said:
“Under this ruling, no state official can enforce the Trigger Ban against anyone who helps a Texan obtain an abortion out of state where abortion care is legal.”
Judge Pitman’s ruling also protects the plaintiffs from criminalization under the pre-Roe statutes and acknowledges the seriousness of threats made by Attorney General Paxton against abortion funds, practical support organizations, abortion providers, and all Texans. The ruling reaffirms key constitutional rights to provide information, funding, healthcare, and support to Texans in need of care.
The plaintiffs in the case are Fund Texas Choice, Texas Equal Access (TEA) Fund, Frontera Fund, The Afiya Center, West Fund, Jane’s Due Process, Clinic Access Support Network, Lilith Fund, and Dr. Ghazaleh Moayedi.