Protesters march during an abortion rights rally on June 25, 2022 in Austin, Texas. Photo: Sergio Flores via Getty Images
Three women are facing a lawsuit for wrongful death after a man accused them of helping his ex-wife obtain medication for an abortion.
Driving the news: The lawsuit is the first of its kind under Texas' near-total abortion ban, which could make it a crime for anyone to help a pregnant person access the procedure.
- Marcus Silva has alleged that his now ex-wife realized she was pregnant in July 2022, a month after Roe v. Wade was overturned and a month before Texas' trigger ban went into effect.
- Two of his ex-wife's friends allegedly texted her with information about Aid Access, an international group that provides abortion pills via mail, before appearing to decipher a way to obtain the medication in Houston, according to the complaint.
- The third woman delivered the medication, the lawsuit alleges.
Details: Court records show that Silva's wife filed for divorce in May 2022; it was finalized in February, the Texas Tribune reports.
- In text messages attached to the complaint, she expressed concern that Siva would "use it against me" and try to make her stay with him. "And after the fact, I know he will try to act like he has some right to the decision."
- Her friends appeared to agree, with one texting: "I just worry about your emotional state and he’ll be able to snake his way into your head." They also encouraged her to delete their text conversation.
- The lawsuit argues that obtaining a self-managed abortion is a crime of murder and that Silva as such has ground to sue the three women, who have not been criminally charged, under the wrongful death statute.
- Silva's wife is not named in the suit; Texas' laws exempt the pregnant person from prosecution.
Between the lines: The lawsuit says the abortion took place in July. However, at the time, the state’s trigger ban had not yet taken effect — the law became enforceable in late August.
Our thought bubble: The lawsuit brings attention to the idea that anyone other than a health provider could be punished under Texas’ trigger ban, which does not specifically state that penalties apply only to "licensed physicians."
- Abortion bans have so far specifically focused on penalizing doctors, and this case could potentially change that, even as anti-abortion groups say the focus for prosecution should be on providers.
Of note: While Texas’ trigger ban states that providing an abortion could be considered a first-degree felony — punishable by life imprisonment or a term between five to 99 years — it makes no mention that abortion should be considered murder.
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