Pile on more shackles

Texas lawmakers test just how much they can punish women for being women.

Republican lawmakers have sent legal threats to Texas organizations that offer to fund out-of-state travel for abortions, potentially setting up a showdown between abortion law and long-held constitutional rights such as freedom of association and freedom of travel.

The Texas Freedom Caucus, a conservative faction of Republicans in the state legislature, sent a letter on 7 July to a law firm that offered to cover employees’ expenses if they travelled for abortion. It threatened Sidley LLP with felony charges, claiming Texas can criminalize anyone who “furnishes the means” for an abortion, regardless of where the abortion occurs. The letter cites a 1925 law which was not formally repealed after the supreme court codified the right to abortion in Roe v Wade in 1973; last week, the Texas supreme court confirmed the 1925 law can be applied.

The “freedom” caucus. Whose freedom? What kind of freedom? When do women get to have some?

The lawmakers also outlined proposed legislation that would allow individuals to sue anyone who financially assists with a Texan’s abortion, regardless of where the abortion occurs. The law proposes that such assistance be considered criminal even if a Texan travelled out of state for a medication abortion and took part of the drug in Texas.

Third paragraph, so naturally it’s time to break out the awkward replacements for “a woman.” A Texan what?

The letter is just the latest move by rightwing lawmakers, lawyers and activists to crack down on abortion provision in Texas. Last week, the state’s attorney general, Ken Paxton, sued the Biden administration for mandating that states provide abortions in medical emergencies. In March, a state legislator, Briscoe Cain, sent a cease and desist letter to Citibank, who had announced a policy to pay for employees’ out of state abortion expenses.

Ken Paxton wants women to die in medical emergencies. He’s probably planning to go watch, with popcorn enough for several hours of viewing pleasure.

“Rightwing activists, lawyers and legislators have taken on a coordinated effort to intimidate and threaten anyone who advocates for helping people women obtain reproductive care, without any concern for whether their actions are legal or constitutional,” said Jennifer Ecklund, a lawyer for Thompson Coburn, which is currently working on behalf of most abortion funds in Texas.

“If they can scare everybody out of supporting pregnant people women who need care, then they’ve achieved their end, no matter what a court says two years from now,” she added.

I hope two years from now everyone will at least be able to say “women.”

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