November 29, 2022

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Texas GOP to Stop Law Firms From Paying for Abortion Travel and Expenses

  • The Texas Freedom Caucus sent a letter to the law firm Sidley Austin LLP. 
  • The letter said legislation will be introduced to prohibit law firms from paying for abortion travel.
  • “Conduct yourselves accordingly,” the letter cautioned.

The Texas Freedom Caucus, a legislative caucus in the Texas House of Representatives, sent a threatening letter to a law firm with locations in Dallas and Houston that planned to reimburse travel costs for employees wanting an abortion.

In the letter, which was addressed to Sidley Austin LLP, the 11 representatives of the caucus wrote that legislation will be introduced to impose civil and criminal sanctions on law firms that pay for abortion or abortion travel.

“We are writing to inform you of the consequences that you and your colleagues will face for these actions,” it said.

The proposed legislation will prohibit any employer in the state from paying for elective abortions or reimbursing abortion-related costs regardless of where the abortion occurs. According to these lawmakers, private citizens will be allowed to sue anyone who pays for an elective abortion performed on a Texas resident. 

If passed, the law will grant The State Bar of Texas to disbar any lawyer who has violated any abortion statutes. 

The Texas Freedom Caucus said Sidley had aided or abetted drug-induced abortions that violate the Texas Heartbeat Act, a law that bans abortions at about six weeks of pregnancy. According to the letter, litigation is already underway to identify employees who may have been involved.

“To the extent that Sidley is facilitating abortions performed in violation of article 4512.1, it is exposing itself and each of its partners to felony criminal prosecution and disbarment.”

According to an email viewed by Bloomberg Law, Sidley said it would cover abortions and related travel costs for employees in states where restrictions are going into effect. 

On June 24, the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, a legal precedent from 1973 that made abortion legal across the US. 

Last year, State Senate Bill 8 took effect in Texas which outlawed abortion around six weeks of gestation, even in cases of rape and incest. The latest ruling will create criminal penalties for those who perform or aid abortions at all stages of pregnancy. 

The letter was supported by the 11 conservative Texas lawmakers and concluded: “Conduct yourselves accordingly.”

Sidley Austin LLP and The Texas Freedom Caucus did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

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