Uber and Lyft announced Friday that they will pay legal fees for their drivers if they get sued under Texas’s recently-enacted abortion law.
Texas’s law, S.B. 8, went into effect on Wednesday after the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to turn down an emergency request from abortion providers to block it.
The measure bans almost all abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, around six weeks of pregnancy. But it also makes it legal for private citizens to sue those who perform or aid in the procedure in violation of the law, including ride-share drivers who perform drop-offs or pick-ups at abortion clinics.
In a statement, Lyft announced that it created a Driver Legal Defense Fund to cover all legal fees for drivers sued under the law while on its platform. The company also said it was donating $1 million to Planned Parenthood to ensure that “transportation is never a barrier to healthcare access.”
S.B. 8 “threatens to punish drivers for getting people where they need to go — specifically, women exercising their right to choose and to access the healthcare they need,” Lyft said.
The company added that drivers are “never responsible for monitoring where their riders go or why.” Likewise, riders “never have to justify, or even share, where they are going and why.”
“Imagine being a pregnant woman trying to get to a healthcare appointment and not knowing if your driver will cancel on you for fear of breaking a law. Both are completely unacceptable,” Lyft said.
Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said on Twitter that his company will be following Lyft’s lead.
“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,” Khosrowshahi tweeted.
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
Texas State Judge Maya Guerra Gamble (D) granted abortion providers a victory on Friday by temporarily blocking anti-abortion group Texas Right to Life from suing Planned Parenthood clinics under the statue.
The injunction expires in two weeks, but a hearing has been set for Sept. 13 that could lead to the pause being extended.