On September 3rd 2021, both Lyft and Uber announced that the companies will now cover the complete legal fees of the drivers who get sued under the new controversial abortion law in Texas. The Texas Abortion Law is also known as the Texas Heartbeat Act and Senate Bill 8 was passed on 19th May 2021 bans abortion after six weeks or after the heartbeat is detected.
According to many medical studies, most women usually are not even aware of the pregnancy for six weeks. Besides that Senate Bill 8 also gives Texan citizens the access to file a lawsuit and collect damages of up to $10,000 against anyone who is considered to be aiding or abetting women in getting an abortion. The driver who would drive women to clinics or hospitals in the state is also potentially liable.
The law has caused protests and outrage by women not only in Texas but across the world. It is also considered to be the biggest restraint to the constitutional right of women to get an abortion in decades.
Uber and Lyft's take on the Texan Abortion Law
On 3rd September 2021, Logan Green the current CEO of Lyft said that the company is creating a driver legal defense fund in order to cover the complete legal fees if the company driver gets sued under the new abortion law in Texas.
In a statement against the new Senate Bill 8 law, Lyft went on to say that it was incompatible with women basic right to privacy as those are the values of the company.
The company also said that that the law was an attack on women’s access to healthcare and their right. This is why Lyft donated a sum of $1 million to an organization called Planned Parenthood in order to ensure that transportation never becomes a barrier to people accessing healthcare. Lyft also encouraged other companies to follow in their footsteps.
In a statement, Lyft said that "Drivers are never responsible for monitoring where their riders go or why. Imagine being a driver and not knowing if you are breaking the law by giving someone a ride." The company also added that “Similarly, 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.”
Shortly after Lyft statement, Uber's CEO Dara Khosrowshahi also joined hands with Lyft facilitating their drivers with a similar policy.
In a Twitter post, Dara Khosrowshahi said that "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."
A Brief about the Texas Abortion Law
On 19th May 2021, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed the Texas Heartbeat Act which is also known as Senate Bill 8 of the 87th Legislature. According to this bill, abortion is considered to be outlawed once the heartbeat of a fetal is detected, which usually occurs in the sixth week of pregnancy. Besides banning abortion after six weeks, the law does not have any exceptions for instances of rape or incest.
It only allows abortions in the case of medical emergencies. With Senate Bill 8 coming into action, people can now sue anyone who helps a Texan woman seeking an abortion. However, according to the law, the women seeking an abortion will not be the target of prosecution, while anyone who helps women get abortions can get charged over $10,000 by Texan citizens.
The Senate Bill 8 met with a few legal challenges, but after the Supreme Court denied an emergency appeal from abortion providers the same week. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court voted 5-4 leading to the law to come into action on 1st September 2021.
What other companies think of Texas Abortion Law
The top dating companies like Bumble and Match have also raised their voice against the new abortion laws in Texas. The companies have come forth in order to help fund Texan women access the services for abortion. Shar Dubey the CEO of Match said that the company has set up funds for employees who need help to travel to another state to have an abortion.
In a statement, Bumble also added that the company will launch a fund in order to help women who want services for abortion in Texas. Another web hosting company called GoDaddy also removed a group known as Texas Right to Life as it was said to be in support of the new law and because it was putting up information about alleged violations of the act. GoDaddy removed Texas Right to Life on the terms that it violated the terms of service of its platform.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Senate Bill 8?
According to this bill, abortion is considered to be outlawed once the heartbeat of a fetal is detected, which usually occurs in the sixth week of pregnancy.
When did Texas Heartbeat Act come into effect?
The Texas Heartbeat Act come into effect on 1st September 2021.
Why are Uber and Lyft paying legal fees for their drivers who sued under the Texas Abortion laws?
Both Uber and Lyft are paying legal fees for their drivers who sued under the Texas Abortion laws because they think they believe that drivers should not be put at risk for getting people where they want to go.