US District Judge Robert Pitman Friday ruled that Texas abortion funds cannot be prosecuted for aiding women who travel out of Texas to get abortions.
In August 2022, numerous abortion funds, pro-choice groups and non-profit organizations brought the lawsuit against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. They claimed that after Roe v Wade was overturned in June 2022, the groups stopped aiding Texan women to leave the state to get abortions—because of the fear of prosecution under the states abortion ban. The groups referenced Texan lawmakers and Paxton’s intention to prosecute them.
Pitman outlined that while Paxton has authority to enforce the Texas abortion law under under H.B 1280, this power does not stretch to regulate abortions outside of Texas. Furthermore, Pitman found that the pre-Roe laws are subject to implied repeal and therefore he granted the motion to prevent the eight named prosecutors from enforcing pre-Roe laws. The court suggested that without the preliminary enjoining of the pre-Roe laws, the abortion funds will not be able to carry out their organizational missions and their First Amendment rights will be impacted.
Senate Bill 8, the “trigger law,” and the pre-Roe statutes were mentioned in the ruling. Pitman explained that Senate Bill 8 and pre-Roe statutes are not enforceable by district attorneys and that the “trigger law” strictly cannot be enforced across state lines. Moreover, because the pre-Roe statutes have been repealed there is no criminal punishment relating to a violation of the statutes—it was unenforceable.
Thus, Paxton was dismissed from this suit. The preliminary injunction allowed the abortion funds to not face prosecution when carrying out their organizations’ activities in funding or supporting women getting abortions outside of Texas.