Ever since the Supreme Court of the United States overturned Roe v. Wade, sending the decision on whether or not abortion will be legal to each state, several companies have announced that they will assist their employees with travel costs if they need to travel to another state to access an abortion. As of the end of June, some of the companies who have said they will do this are Alaska Airlines, Dick’s Sporting Goods, JPMorgan, Lyft, Apple, Disney, Uber, Starbucks, Airbnb and more. Now, a conservative group in Texas is fighting back.
An International law firm called Sidley with offices in Texas seems to have joined the ranks of companies that would help employees pay for travel if that’s what they need to do to obtain a legal abortion. That’s what the Texas Freedom Caucus seems to think since they recently sent Sidley Austin a letter “warning the company that paying for their employees’ abortion costs could expose them to criminal penalties.”
“It has come to our attention that Sidley Austin has decided to reimburse the travel costs of employees who leave Texas to murder their unborn children,” they wrote to Sidley’s Dallas branch office.
The Texas Freedom Caucus letter continues, “It also appears that Sidley has been complicit in illegal abortions that were performed in Texas before and after the Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, No. 19-1392. We are writing to inform you of the consequences that you and your colleagues will face for these actions.”
The Caucus claims that it is a felony in Texas to assist someone with obtaining an abortion and that the “criminal prohibitions extend to drug-induced abortions if any part of the drug regimen is ingested in Texas, even if the drugs were dispensed by an out-of-state abortionist.”
The letter goes on to say that Republicans will be introducing legislation that, among other things, will lead to the disbarment of attorneys involved in assisting a woman to procure an abortion. Here is what they say they intend to introduce:
First. [the legislation} will prohibit any employer in Texas from paying for elective abortions or reimbursing abortion-related expenses—regardless of where the abortion occurs, and regardless of the law in the jurisdiction where the abortion occurs. This provision will impose felony criminal sanctions on anyone who pays for these abortions to ensure that it remains enforceable against self-insured plans as a generally applicable criminal law.
Second. It will allow private citizens to sue anyone who pays for an elective abortion performed on a Texas resident, or who pays for or reimburses the costs associated with these abortions—regardless of where the abortion occurs, and regardless of the law in the jurisdiction where the abortion occurs. This provision will be modeled after the Texas Heartbeat Act and its private civil-enforcement mechanism.
Third. It will require the State Bar of Texas to disbar any lawyer who has violated article 4512.2 by “furnishing the means for procuring an abortion knowing the purpose intended,” or who violates any other abortion statute enacted by the Texas legislature. If the State Bar fails to disbar an attorney who has violated these laws, then any member of the public may sue the officers of the State Bar and obtain a writ of mandamus compelling them
to impose the required disciplinary sanctions.
Fourth. The legislation that we will introduce next session will empower district attorneys from throughout the state to prosecute abortion-related crimes—including violations of article 4512.2 of the Revised Civil Statutes—when the local district attorney fails or refuses to do so. It will also eliminate the three-year statute of limitations that currently applies to violations of article 4512.2. The state of Texas will ensure that you and colleagues are held
accountable for every abortion that you illegally assisted.
Here’s what The View’s Ana Navarro thinks about the matter: “Texas legislators are threatening punitive action against @SidleyLaw, if it pays travel costs of employees seeking abortion care outside TX. So, some Americans are also losing the right to inter-state travel. But nah. Don’t compare it to #Gilead.”
The Republican Freedom Caucus intends to make sure no Texas woman ever again aborts her baby. They seem to have covered all the bases with regard to attempts to work-around abortion bans. In Texas, abortion will be illegal at conception, even in cases of rape or incest. What do you think about what the Texas Freedom Caucus intends to do in Texas?