Abortion funds file their own lawsuits

It’s good to fight back. I hope it can be successful.

This week, the Lilith Fund and Texas Equal Access Fund, two of Texas’ oldest abortion funds, announced legal action (available to view hereherehere, and here) against two private individuals in Texas and two organizations based outside the state seeking to enforce Senate Bill 8, which has been in place for more than six months.  The Texas bill deputizes private citizens to sue anyone who assists someone with getting an abortion – a move designed to intimidate abortion funds, providers, and the people they serve.

The lawsuits, filed in state and federal courts, would protect abortion funds and the people they support from being sued by anti-abortion extremists in the state and outside organizations.

The filings come as Texas’ abortion ban – the most extreme in the country – has almost entirely cut off access to abortion in a state of more than 29 million people, disproportionately harming people of color and those working to make ends meet who can’t afford to travel for care. Since the ban first took effect, nearly 1,400 Texans have left the state every month and traveled thousands of miles to get their abortions in states as far as Illinois, Washington, Ohio, and Maryland.

“We are yet again being forced to protect the work we do and show up for Texans who need abortions and the people who love them,” said Amanda Beatriz Williams, Executive Director of Lilith Fund. “We won’t be harassed or intimidated out of serving our community, in the courts or anywhere else. We are proud to fight back, even when we have no choice.”

In the face of criminalization and legal attacks, abortion funds have never stopped showing up for their communities. Senate Bill 8, along with the endless restrictions anti-abortion politicians in the Texas legislature have enacted over the last 10 years, has created an unprecedented and unsustainable situation in Texas. Now, with other states passing Texas copycat abortion bans, the impact is permeating far and wide.

“These attacks against our fund are meant to stigmatize funding abortion and prevent us from supporting Texans seeking care,” said Kamyon Conner, Executive Director of Texas Equal Access Fund. “The work we do to help people access abortion helps communities thrive. We will not be intimidated. We’ll continue to stand up to the bullies who have launched this attack on our work, our rights, and our communities.”

Anti-abortion extremists, many of whom don’t even reside in Texas, have one goal to cut off access to abortion, and have targeted abortion funds who help Texans get care. With this legal action, Texas abortion funds are fighting back  to ensure their work and the privacy of the people they serve is not threatened.

I found a DMN story and a Bloomberg Law story about this, but both are paywalled. The two organizations the suits are filed against are the America First Legal Foundation (with a name like that, you know they’re evil) and the Thomas More Society (ditto), and the two individuals are Ashley Maxwell of Hood County and Sadie Weldon of Jack County. If all of those names sound familiar, it’s because those people and those groups had previously filed petitions in state court to be allowed to depose the leaders of the Lilith Fund and the TEA Fund. I don’t know if we can call this a standoff – among other things, we’re in uncharted legal territory, so who knows how the law is going to be interpreted by the various courts – but it’s very much a seismic battle, with unknowable implications.

In the wake of the SCOTx dismissal of the abortion providers’ lawsuit, I noted that injunctions against individuals would need to be on the menu of options for abortion providers going forward. My initial reaction to this was that we were seeing the first of those, but on closer inspection that’s clearly not the case. I do think we will see a whole lot more suits and countersuits in the near future, at least until there’s some more clarity about what will and won’t work in the courts. All I can say for now is that I wish Lilith and TEA all the best, and if you’d been thinking about donating to them, now would be a good time.

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One Response to Abortion funds file their own lawsuits

  1. policywonqueria says:


    The fundamental problem with these suits is this:

    The plaintiffs are exercising their right to petition the third branch of government, just as in the 14 prior lawsuits that were consolidated by the Texas MDL panel. No court clerk stopped them from filing. But what are they petitioning for? An order to stop their ideological opponents from exercising their corresponding right to petition the third branch of government.

    While bringing their own legal action, they want to be able to have their opponents held in contempt and put in jail if they were to exercise their reciprocal right to go to court and make their case.


    The pro-abortion plaintiffs also complain that their opponents will seek to impose attorney’s fees upon them if they were to bring SB8 suits against them in the future. Meanwhile, these plaintiffs are themselves seeking an award of attorney’s fees and costs in their current lawsuits, just under a different statute: The Texas Declaratory Judgments Act.

    Hypocrisy: the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behavior does not conform.

    The New York Times last weekend acknowledged that America has a problem with free speech. This is another example.

    Bringing a lawsuit is a form of speech and petitioning, and also an invocation of government power. The plaintiffs here are doing this – exercising their right to speak prolifically and petition — but they are doing it with the express goal of denying their opponent their corresponding right to deliver public speech and to petition, and even a mere chance to file a lawsuit of their own to make out their contrary case. They wish to accomplish that type of suppression through anti-suit injunctions to be imposed and enforced by the courts to prevent and suppress lawsuits in which the constitutionality of SB8 could actually be litigated.

    The basic proposition: Access to the judicial forum for me, but not for thee.

    Prior restraint on the speech and petitioning to be imposed only on others: those on the opposite side of a major controversy: on account of their contrary viewpoint.

    That can’t go or end well.

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