Ride-sharing service Lyft has announced the creation of its new Driver Legal Defense Fund, which is intended for drivers who may find themselves facing a lawsuit under Texas’s newly imposed abortion law. The company vows to cover all of a driver’s legal fees should they find themselves in this unfortunate position.
The issue revolves around the Texas Heartbeat Act, a new law that went into effect on September 1. Under this law, abortions are forbidden once a fetal heartbeat is detected, something that usually occurs around six weeks into the pregnancy. The draconian law is uniquely oppressive as it not only bans most abortions, but also seeks tips from private citizens who are financially incentivized to report any suspected violations of the law.
In addition, anyone who assists a person with getting an abortion under the Heartbeat Act can also be sued for $10,000 or more. The broad nature of the bill means that even individuals unaware that they may be ‘facilitating’ the procedure, such as a taxi driver, can end up on the receiving end of a lawsuit.
The law specifically allows for “any person” to “sue anyone who aids or abets these illegal abortions.” The group Texas Right to Life has launched a website that allows anyone to submit tips about alleged abortions and/or people who may have helped facilitate them, including those who may have unknowingly helped transport the accused individual to the abortion facility.
Lyft co-founder and CEO Logan Green addressed this issue in recent tweets, announcing the Lyft Driver Legal Defense Fund, likewise calling the bill “an attack on women’s access to healthcare and on their right to choose.” Green called on other companies to join them in offering drivers protection from potential lawsuits under the bill.
Shortly after its publication, Uber’s CEO Dara Khosrowshahi retweeted Green’s message, announcing that Uber, too, will cover its drivers’ legal fees if they’re sued under the abortion law.