After the Supreme Court ruled to overturn Roe v. Wade last year, a new ruling from U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman says that Texas cannot enforce its ban on out-of-state abortions.
In August 2022, reproductive rights groups such as the Lilith Fund, Texas Equal Access Fund, and Fund Texas Choice filed a class-action lawsuit in response to Attorney General Ken Paxton issuing a notice saying he would prosecute and assist any local prosecutor in upholding the Human Life Protection Act of 2021.
In February, Judge Pitman ruled in favor of the Texas abortion funds, providing a preliminary injunction that prevents the defendants from prosecuting the groups helping fund out-of-state abortions and indicating they likely cannot be criminally charged for helping facilitate an out-of-state abortion.
Pitman stated that Paxton and the district attorneys do have the power to enforce the “trigger law,” which criminalizes anyone who facilitates an abortion with an exception of saving the mother’s life with a $100,000 fine and up to life in prison. However, Pitman says that they cannot enforce it beyond state lines.
The law “does not express any intent, much less a clear one, to apply extraterritorially,” Pitman wrote. “Accordingly, there is no plausible construction of the statute that allows the Attorney General or local prosecutor to penalize out-of-state abortions.”
Now, at least three abortion funds have stated they will be returning their services to women in Texas, including the Lilith Fund, Texas Equal Access Fund and Fund Texas Choice, who posted in Facebook and Twitter posts about their enthusiasm to fund abortion care in states where it’s legal.
“We’re funding abortion care for Texans again, in states where abortion is legal!” the Lilith Fund posted on Facebook. “We’ll continue that work even as we get back to the heart of our mission — making abortion care accessible for Texans. Being able to fund abortions for Texans again means everything to us.”
Last year, State Rep. Briscoe Cain (R–Deer Park) sent cease-and-desist letters to these groups, “reminding them that Texas law imposes felony criminal liability on any person who ‘furnishes the means of procuring an abortion knowing the purpose intended.’”
“These are criminal organizations,” said Cain. “It is a crime to pay for another person’s abortion in Texas, and anyone who gives money to these abortion funds will be prosecuted.”