The rideshare companies Uber and Lyft have both announced that they will be covering 100 percent of the legal fees for any of their drivers who get sued under the provisions of a restrictive new abortion law in Texas. This law, which bans abortions after six weeks of pregnancy with no exceptions for rape or incest, includes provisions allowing members of the public to sue those suspected of having been involved in the procurement of an illegal abortion. Rideshare drivers who transport pregnant people in connection to the obtaining of such an abortion could be subject to lawsuits under these rules.
Ghoulishly, the Texas law provides for rewards of at least $10,000 for individuals who bring those lawsuits in the event that they prove their claims. Essentially, it’s a bounty system. Lyft CEO Logan Green commented as follows on Twitter this week, referring to the controversial anti-abortion law:
‘TX SB8 threatens to punish drivers for getting people where they need to go— especially women exercising their right to choose. [Lyft] has created a Driver Legal Defense Fund to cover 100% of legal fees for drivers sued under SB8 while driving on our platform. This is an attack on women’s access to healthcare and on their right to choose. [Lyft] is donating $1 million to Planned Parenthood to ensure that transportation is never a barrier to healthcare access. We encourage other companies to join us.’
This is an attack on women’s access to healthcare and on their right to choose. @Lyft is donating $1 million to Planned Parenthood to ensure that transportation is never a barrier to healthcare access. We encourage other companies to join us.
— Logan Green (@logangreen) September 3, 2021
Meanwhile, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi replied to Green’s first tweet with the following message:
‘Right on [Logan Green] – drivers shouldn’t be put at risk for getting people where they want to go. Team [Uber] is in too and will cover legal fees in the same way. Thanks for the push.’
Right on @logangreen – drivers shouldn’t be put at risk for getting people where they want to go. Team @Uber is in too and will cover legal fees in the same way. Thanks for the push. https://t.co/85LhOUctSc
— dara khosrowshahi (@dkhos) September 3, 2021
These announcements help undercut the weight of specific elements of the law, since rideshare drivers affiliated with these companies wouldn’t be left on their own. Besides these actions from private companies, top officials including President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have pledged to examine ways to take on the Texas abortion law. Harris in particular insisted that she and her team “will not stand by and allow our nation to go back to the days of back-alley abortions,” “will not abide by cash incentives for virtual vigilantes and intimidation for patients,” and “will use every lever of our Administration to defend the right to safe and legal abortion—and to strengthen that right.”