Uber, Lyft pledge to pay for legal fees of drivers sued under Texas abortion law

U.S. and World

Close-up of vertical sign with logos for ridesharing companies Uber and Lyft, with wheels of a car in the background, indicating a location where rideshare pickups are available in downtown Los Angeles, California, October 24, 2018. (Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images)

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas (KVEO) — The nation’s two biggest ride-share companies are both planning to legally support drivers who may be sued under a new Texas law that penalizes anyone who drives a woman to an abortion clinic after six weeks into a pregnancy.

Lyft announced it was setting up a Driver Legal Defense Fund to cover all legal fees for drivers sued under SB8, Texas’s controversial abortion bill that bans the procedure six months into a pregnancy and penalizes anyone who assists in the process.

“Drivers are never responsible for monitoring where their riders go or why,” said Lyft in a release. “This law is incompatible with people’s basic rights to privacy, our community guidelines, the spirit of rideshare, and our values as a company.”

Logan Green, the company’s CEO, doubled down on Twitter calling the law an “attack on women’s access to healthcare and on their right to choose.”

Shortly after, Dara Khosrowshahi, Uber CEO, made a similar pledge to cover legal fees of any driver who may incur a lawsuit under this law.

The new law, which went into effect Sept. 1, allows private citizens to sue anyone involved in an abortion (other than the patient) after a fetal heartbeat is detected. Citizens are allowed to sue for up to $10,000.

SB8, also known as the “Texas Heartbeat Act,” prohibits abortions whenever an ultrasound can detect what lawmakers defined as a fetal “heartbeat.” However, medical professionals say the heart doesn’t begin to form until the fetus is at least nine weeks old, and they decry efforts to promote abortion bans by relying on medical inaccuracies.

“It’s not a heartbeat, it’s the motion of the neural cells going up and down tubes in an embryo,” Dr. Michael Cackovic, a maternal-fetal medicine specialist at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center, told the Associated Press.

Pro-choice advocates argue this law eliminates roughly 85 percent of abortions, as most people do not know they are pregnant within the first six weeks of pregnancy.

Another issue some have with the act is that it makes no exception for those impregnated through rape or incest.

Anti-choice advocates see the law as a big win in their years-long fight to restrict abortion access.

Texas Right To Life, the anti-abortion organization, even set up an online tip line to report abortion procedures. However, GoDaddy, the domain site that hosted the website, determined the webpage violated their terms and conditions and took down the site.

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