If red states like Texas can't end the availability of abortion medication as a criminal matter, they'll do it as a civil court matter instead.
A Texas man is suing three women under the wrongful death statute, alleging that they assisted his ex-wife in terminating her pregnancy, the first such case brought since the state’s near-total ban on abortion last summer.
Marcus Silva is represented by Jonathan Mitchell, the former Texas solicitor general and architect of the state’s prohibition on abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy, and state Rep. Briscoe Cain, R-Deer Park. The lawsuit is filed in state court in Galveston County, where Silva lives.
Silva alleges that his now ex-wife learned she was pregnant in July 2022, the month after the overturn of Roe v. Wade, and conspired with two friends to illegally obtain abortion-inducing medication and terminate the pregnancy.
The friends texted with the woman, sending her information about Aid Access, an international group that provides abortion-inducing medication through the mail, the lawsuit alleges. Text messages filed as part of the complaint seem to show they instead found a way to acquire the medication in Houston, where the two women lived.
A third woman delivered the medication, the lawsuit alleges, and text messages indicate that the wife self-managed an abortion at home.
The defendants could not immediately be reached for comment. Silva’s wife filed for divorce in May 2022, court records show, two months before the alleged abortion. The divorce was finalized in February. They share two daughters, the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit relies heavily on screenshots from a group chat the ex-wife had with two friends seemingly seeking to help her terminate her pregnancy. Her friends expressed concern that Silva would “snake his way into your head.”
“I know either way he will use it against me,” the pregnant woman said, according to text messages attached to the complaint. “If I told him before, which I’m not, he would use it as [a way to] try to stay with me. And after the fact, I know he will try to act like he has some right to the decision.”
“Delete all conversations from today,” one of the women later told her. “You don’t want him looking through it.”
The lawsuit alleges that assisting a self-managed abortion qualifies as murder under state law, which would allow Silva to sue under the wrongful death statute. The women have not been criminally charged. Texas’ abortion laws specifically exempt the pregnant person from prosecution; the ex-wife is not named as a defendant.
Now maybe this gets thrown out as unconstitutional, and maybe it doesn't. And maybe Texas women won't try to get an abortion anymore because they don't want their friends get sued. Or maybe, just maybe, Texas wants to end the availability of medicinal abortion in the US, period.
Mitchell and Cain intend to also name the manufacturer of the abortion pill as a defendant, once it is identified.
“Anyone involved in distributing or manufacturing abortion pills will be sued into oblivion,” Cain said in a statement.
Silva is asking a Galveston judge to award him more than $1 million in damages and an injunction stopping the defendants from distributing abortion pills in Texas.
If no drugmaker will manufacture or sell abortion medication in the US because of the possibility of crushing litigation, then it goes away for everyone.
That's the point.