SAN ANTONIO — A coalition of Texas non-profits gathered in federal court on Tuesday where arguments began in a lawsuit regarding abortion.
Fund Texas Choice and several other plaintiffs jointly sued the Texas Attorney General’s Office in August in an effort to stop potential future prosecution of abortion funds that help women seek abortions in other states.
“Who would have thought that we would be asking the court’s to decide whether or not we can freely move within the United States? I know we never did. And yet, we are dealing with some draconian laws that are restricting Texans’ right to access care so they can freely travel to attain the healthcare they so deserve. This lawsuit will help determine whether or not Texas has extra territorial jurisdiction outside its borders. We know it shouldn’t, so we are fighting to give Texans the comfort and support they deserve from their home state. There is safety and comfort in Texans helping other Texans,” said Anna Rupani, Executive Director of Fund Texas Choice.
Several Texas abortion funds ceased direct financial aid shortly before the Supreme Court overturned Roe versus Wade in June.
Texans have been living in a post-Roe world since before the historic ruling due to legislation such as Senate Bill 8, which bans abortions after six weeks of pregnancy with no exceptions for rape or incest. The bill details vague exceptions related to saving the pregnant woman’s life.
The Frontera Fund is among the nine plaintiffs listed in the lawsuit filed against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and a host of municipal prosecutors.
Alexis Bay, co-founder of the Frontera Fund, emphasized how the lawsuit targets the trigger law and pre-Civil War statutes in Texas as being unconstitutional in violation of the First Amendment due to threats of criminalization for those who help Texans access legal abortions.
The phone lines for organizations such as the Frontera Fund remain open, but information given to Texans seeking abortions is limited.
“Many Texans are still seeking funding to be able to get out of the state,” Bay said. “There’s been a lot of talk by officials across the state to go after abortion funds in the state of Texas, to go after those who provide practical support and travel funding to those who wish to leave the state.”
Bay noted the lawsuit requests a temporary restraining order on Texas officials being able to prosecute abortion funds for helping women navigate abortion services in other states where the procedure is still legal. She’s hoping the hearing results in clearly defining specific aspects of the laws on the books on abortion in Texas.
“The plaintiffs the funds and other groups truly believe that the attorney general’s office needs to give clarity to what is aiding and abetting and also just that this judge should rule that providing funding at least for travel and or services and information should be shared without the fear of aiding and abetting,” Bay said.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton evaded a subpoena to testify, per an affidavit, citing safety concerns due to the courier’s approach. A judge granted the AG’s request to squash the subpoena on Tuesday morning.