First-of-its-kind lawsuit's success could be another deterrent to abortions in Texas, professor says

Tom Abrahams Image
Tuesday, March 14, 2023
2nd anti-abortion suit looms after Galveston Co. case, lawmaker says
An attorney representing the ex-husband says that this case meets the elements of a wrongful death claim because the women knew what they were doing was illegal in Texas.

GALVESTON COUNTY, Texas (KTRK) -- A Texas man has filed suit in Galveston County, seeking more than $1 million from the women he claims helped his ex-wife obtain abortion medication, which ended her pregnancy.

The ex-wife filed for divorce in May 2022, and it was finalized in February. She allegedly took the medication last summer in July.

Republican State Representative Briscoe Cain is one of the ex-husband's attorneys.

ORIGINAL REPORT: 3 Texas women being sued by friend's ex-husband for allegedly helping her obtain abortion pills

"It is definitely a good first case because it meets all the elements of a wrongful death claim," Cain told ABC13. "The defendants were aware their actions were illegal in Texas, and they did it anyway, and it resulted in the death of an unborn child."

The lawsuit contains screenshots of text messages among the women, which show their plan to obtain and deliver the medication.

There is also a photograph, the filing claims, of two women with the plaintiff's wife and contends that for Halloween 2022, they "celebrated the murder" by dressing up in Handmaid's Tale costumes for Halloween.

"The Handmaid's Tale" is a novel and a television series about a future America in which women are repressed with few rights.

Wendy Davis, a senior advisor with Planned Parenthood Texas Votes, said the lawsuit is intended to intimidate.

"Texas is, of course, ground zero for that battle," she said. "It's an entirely unacceptable suit. One that is, of course, seeking to punish people for helping someone access the reproductive healthcare that she sought and needed."

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On Monday, Vice President Kamala Harris held a press conference via telephone and focused on reproductive rights, and she specifically spoke about abortion rights in Texas.

"Even as women fight for their lives in the face of the Texas abortion bans that currently exist," Harris said, "so-called leaders in Texas continue to try to restrict access to reproductive healthcare."

RELATED: 'You feel like a walking coffin': Conroe mom says Texas' strict abortion laws endangered her health

The suit does not name the ex-wife as a defendant.

"The wrongful death statute makes it clear that the mother cannot be part of the action if it's due to the death of her unborn child and the penal code as well," Cain said.

"Some have asked if we've heard from defense counsel. As of yet, we've not. It's to get them served and then go into the litigation phase, pursuing discovery. One of the things we hope to find in discovery is the producers and manufacturers of these abortifacients will be added as defendants as well," Cain said.

But what are the legal implications of this first-of-its-kind post-Roe V. Wade case?

"While I don't expect lawsuits like this, is every case of an abortion, it does make people who participate or assist in abortions potentially vulnerable," University of Houston law professor, Seth Chandler, said.

"But if this lawsuit were to succeed and the plaintiffs were to recover significant damages, as a result, then it adds yet another deterrent to having an abortion in Texas," he said.

Representative Cain said there is already another similar case for which his team is ready to file suit.

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