Texas man sues ex-wife’s friends for helping her have an abortion

  • A man is suing his ex-wife’s friends for $3 million, saying they helped her have an abortion.
  • The lawsuit included texts in which the women discussed abortion pills, which are banned in Texas.
  • Lawyers say it could have a chilling effect on speech, as women have been targeted for their texts.

In a first-of-its-kind case since Roe v. Wade and abortion was declared illegal in Texas, a man filed a lawsuit against his ex-wife’s friends, accusing them of helping her terminate her pregnancy.

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of Marcus Silva on March 9 in Galveston County, southeast of Houston, cites the state’s murder and wrongful death laws. Silva is seeking $1 million in damages from each of the three women. His ex-wife was not named as a defendant. Their divorce was finalized in February.

“The abortion of Silva’s child took place in July 2022, after the Dobbs decision. Self-administered abortion was illegal in Texas even before the Dobbs decision,” spokespeople for the Thomas More Society, a conservative nonprofit law firm that represents O Silva told Insider in an emailed statement. They also reported that Silva plans to sue the drug’s maker as well “after the manufacturer is identified” in court proceedings.

The statement also said the women could face murder charges, citing the state’s homicide statute in cases involving an “unborn child,” but so far no criminal charges have been filed against them. “Silva has no claims against his ex-wife, who is immune from civil and criminal liability under Texas law,” they added.

None of the defendants responded to Insider’s requests for comment. It is unclear whether they have retained legal counsel.

Silva’s ex-wife, who has two children with him, sought abortion methods two months after filing for divorce, according to the lawsuit, which would also have been weeks after the Supreme Court’s Dobbs v. Jackson decision overturned Roe and caused ban on abortion in many states.

The lawsuit, reviewed by Insider, alleges that one of the friends arranged for the abortion drugs to be delivered to Silva’s ex-wife. It also contains photos it says show text exchanges between Silva’s ex-wife and the other women. It is unclear who took the photos or how they were obtained.

“Mistakes happen. You can’t spiral. Hopefully this is the slap in the body you have to distance yourself from,” one of the friends wrote, according to the lawsuit photos, later adding, “I’m just worried about your emotional state and it will be able to get into your head.”

“Delete all conversations from today,” said another of the women after a discussion about finding and taking abortion drugs. “You don’t want him to look at it.”

Lawyers with experience in constitutional law and federal courts told Insider that this lawsuit is the latest example of anti-abortion advocates fighting against medical abortion, as well as an attempt to scare people away from providing support to friends or loved ones. seeking to terminate a pregnancy.

“This lawsuit seeks to punish three women who helped a fourth woman obtain the pills,” Doron Kalir, a professor at Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, told Insider. “They attacked three women who texted. That’s their entire real case for this lawsuit. This seems far-fetched even for an abortion pill lawsuit.”

Kalir said accusing the women of “causing death by texting” was a “long shot,” adding that the women were essentially being charged millions of dollars for tipping their friends about an FDA-approved drug. He added that the simple reality of being targeted by such a lawsuit could discourage others from talking to their friends in vulnerable situations for fear of being sued.

The lawsuit also brings to mind SB 8, the abortion ban Texas passed in 2021 that had a vigilante-style enforcement mechanism, allowing private individuals to sue anyone who helped someone get an abortion after six weeks of pregnancy. Jonathan Mitchell, the former Texas attorney general and author of SB 8, is representing Silva in the case.

Jon D. Michaels, a law professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, told Insider that this lawsuit was “100%” inspired by SB 8.

“It just goes to show how SB 8 has opened the door to this kind of vindictive litigation,” he said.

In addition to trying to punish the people involved, Michaels said the lawsuit seemed like it was “trying to scare or intimidate others who would make similar choices, further isolating pregnant women, making them that much more vulnerable and dependent.”

Michaels agreed that the lawsuit was the biggest effort to block access to abortion since clinics have largely closed in Texas and people are increasingly turning to neighboring states or abortion pills.

“You push people into the second best solution, and then you push the second best solution,” he said. “If there are enough lawsuits against abortion distributors and manufacturers, this supply of drugs could be exhausted.”

The lawsuit is the latest in a series of conservative efforts to target the abortion pill, including in Texas. Anti-abortion groups in the state filed a lawsuit last year asking a federal judge to ban mifepristone, which has been FDA-approved since 2000, nationwide.

A group of 20 Republican attorneys general, including Texas AG Ken Paxton, sent a letter to pharmacies last month threatening legal action if they continued to stock abortion pills in states where the drugs are illegal or their legal use is challenged in court. Walgreens has announced plans to stop selling mifepristone drugs in Texas and other states where the drug is banned.

“Anyone involved in the distribution or manufacture of abortion pills will be sued into oblivion,” Briscoe Kane, attorney for Marcus Silva and a member of the Texas House of Representatives, said in a statement to Insider. “That includes CVS and Walgreens if their abortion pills find their way into our state.”

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