Wendy Davis takes aim at Texas abortion laws once again, filing suit against Senate Bill 8 in federal court

The former gubernatorial candidate who now works at an Austin-based abortion fund argues the law should be deemed unconstitutional.

By Rhonda Fanning, Jill Ament & Caroline CovingtonApril 20, 2022 1:19 pm, ,

Texas’ new abortion law, based on Senate Bill 8, faces a new legal challenge. Former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis has filed a lawsuit in federal court, arguing the law is “blatantly unconstitutional.”

Davis is a former state senator known for her 13-hour filibuster of an abortion-restrictions bill on the floor of the Texas Senate chamber in 2013. Now, Davis donates to and works with the Lilith Fund for Reproductive Equity, an Austin-based abortion fund.

Senate Bill 8 makes abortion illegal after detection of so-called fetal cardiac activity, which is around six weeks of pregnancy. The law also empowers private citizens to bring civil lawsuits against anyone who aids or abets an abortion after that six-week mark.

Joanna Grossman, the Ellen K. Solender endowed chair in Women and the Law, and professor of law at Southern Methodist University, spoke with Texas Standard about Davis’ lawsuit. Listen to the interview in the audio player above or read the highlights below.

Highlights from this interview:

– This isn’t the first time someone has challenged SB 8. But Davis’ lawsuit specifically challenges the law’s provision for civil lawsuits, and goes after people who have declared their intent to sue someone because of an abortion.

An “abortion fund” raises money to help women who seek abortion care but may not be able to afford it. Grossman says there are funds all over the country that aim to fill the health care gap, especially for low-income women who use Medicaid for health insurance, which doesn’t cover abortions. Abortion funds, and their donors, have been targets of SB 8 lawsuits for allegedly aiding and abetting abortions.

– Davis and the other parties in the lawsuit are asking the court for a “declaratory judgement” that SB 8 is unconstitutional and cannot be enforced. If they succeed, it could mean doctors and other health care providers who provide abortions wouldn’t be able to be sued. Many providers have stopped performing most abortions because of the law.

– Grossman doesn’t expect the court to wait for a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on a Mississippi abortion case because it’s “not the same issue” as Davis’ lawsuit.

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