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This Lawsuit Sets a Terrifying Precedent for People Seeking Abortions

Woman at Texas abortion ban protest with a sign that reads "Don't mess with [Texas] my uterus" with Texas crossed out

A Texas man is suing his ex-wife for having an abortion, as well as the three women who helped her.

Earlier this month, on March 9, Marcus Silva filed a wrongful death lawsuit and is suing the three women for $1 million dollars each. Yes, you read that amount correctly. However, Texas law prohibits his former wife, who is not named, from being liable, as those who’ve had the abortion cannot be prosecuted. The three women have not been criminally charged and Silva is apparently not “not pursuing any claims against her.”

The woman apparently discovered that she was pregnant a month before Roe v. Wade was overturned in the US and before the near-total ban on pregnancy termination went into effect in Texas. Documents state that the two divorced in February this year.

The ex-husband claims that she exchanged texts with friends, who lived in Huston (Silva and his ex-wife lived in Galveston County) and gave her information from Aid Access, an organization that ships abortion pills worldwide. The messages indicate that she managed to get ahold of the pills and performed the abortion herself at home.

According to The Texas Tribune, Silva’s ex-wife wrote, “I know either way he will use it against me. 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.”

In response, one of the other women told her to “delete all conversations from today”, warning her friend that she didn’t want her then-husband to go through her phone.

Along with the three women, the suit papers state that Silva intends to sue the manufacturer of the pills his wife took once it is identified.

One of the ickiest aspects of this case is that he is being represented by lawyer Jonathan Mitchell, who helped create the state’s bill that bans abortion after around six weeks.

The Texas law on abortion is unclear for the period when the woman had hers, as the state had a trigger law that meant performing a termination carried a life sentence. However, it didn’t go into effect until August. But some conservatives, including Attorney General Ken Paxton, are claiming that it actually did and has a five-year sentence.

Wendy Davis, the senior adviser of Planned Parenthood Texas Votes, said of the lawsuit, “We are outraged, but we are not surprised.”

She continued saying that this was a “direct result of the dangerous policies championed by Governor Greg Abbott and his supporters. It is state-sanctioned harassment and we will not stand for it.”

A law professor at SMU Dedman School of Law, Joanna Grossman, said: “This is going to cause such fear and chilling that it doesn’t matter whether [Mitchell] is right. Who is going to want to help a friend find an abortion if there is some chance that their text messages are going to end up in the news? And maybe they’re going to get sued, and maybe they’re going to get arrested, and it’s going to get dropped eventually, but in the meantime, they will have been terrified.”

(featured image: Gayatri Malhotra on Unsplash)

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Brooke Pollock is a UK-based entertainment journalist who talks incessantly about her thoughts on pop culture. She can often be found with her headphones on listening to an array of music, scrolling through social media, at the cinema with a large popcorn, or laying in bed as she binges the latest TV releases.