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It Begins: Man Files Lawsuit Against Girlfriend For Out Of State Abortion

As Texas’s near-total ban on abortions drives many pregnant people out of state for necessary healthcare, one man is suing because his ex-partner terminated a pregnancy in Colorado.

Since the repeal of Roe v. Wade, abortion has been all but illegal in Texas. Pregnant people who want to acquire an abortion, even for life-saving purposes, often have to travel to other states to receive the procedure. A new lawsuit could soon close even that avenue of reproductive choice.

According to The Washington Post, Collin Davis found out that his ex-partner was planning to terminate her pregnancy in February. Davis immediately filed suit, retaining noted anti-abortion attorney Jonathan Mitchell. Mitchell was the chief architect of Senate Bill 8, the 2021 law that is sometimes erroneously referred to a heartbeat bill because it bans abortion once electrical activity is detectable on a fetus’s cardiac pole. Helping legislators craft laws that make abortions harder to acquire while skating through constitutional challenges has become one of Mitchell’s primary jobs.

Senate Bill 8 allows anyone in Texas to sue any other person for helping someone terminate a pregnancy after six weeks. The law essentially deputizes any interested party as a bounty hunter to sue people who help acquire abortions, with a potential $10,000 payout. Providing abortion in the state after six weeks is also illegal, with a $10,000 fine and up to life in prison.

Davis’s lawsuit could determine whether it is legal for residents to leave for states where abortion is available. Currently, it is legal to travel to other states for healthcare. However, the goal of anti-abortion activists like Mitchell has long been to close this loophole and further reduce the ability of people to seek care outside states with oppressive reproduction health laws.

Davis has also disclosed his ex-partner’s abortion to the state district court. He is asking permission to investigate potential illegal activity.

As it stands, no illegal activity has been reported, but if a sympathetic court finds that seeking an out-of-state abortion should be included under current law, it could trickle up to the U.S. Supreme Court. There is a conservative supermajority on the court now thanks to former President Donald Trump appointing three new justices after the U.S. Senate blocked former President Obama’s nomination following the death of liberal justice Ruth Bader-Ginsberg. It was the Trump court that repealed Roe, a longtime goal of the conservative movement.

Texas law gives extremely vague definitions of what would constitute aiding and abetting an illegal abortion. Thus far, most commentaries on the imprecise wording have focused on how it fails to protect pregnant people in medical emergencies that need to terminate a pregnancy to survive. A group of women and doctors is currently suing the state over that exact issue.

However, if merely traveling out of state is made illegal, then all kinds of actions could fall under legal scrutiny. According to current federal statutes on aiding and abetting, any person that provided any help to someone who said they were seeking an abortion could be criminally liable. There has already been one Texas case where a man sued women that helped his wife obtained a medication abortion by mail, which is also still currently legal.

Jef Rouner
Jef Rouner
Jef Rouner is an award-winning freelance journalist, the author of The Rook Circle, and a member of The Black Math Experiment. He lives in Houston where he spends most of his time investigating corruption and strange happenings. Jef has written for Houston Press, Free Press Houston, and Houston Chronicle.

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