AUSTIN (Nexstar) — A federal judge in Austin heard a lawsuit on Tuesday against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and a class of county and district attorneys regarding the state’s near-total abortion ban.
Several abortion support funds and a Texas abortion provider filed the suit in late August, according to the Texas Tribune. The groups aim to help Texans receive legal abortion care in other states. They want the court to declare Texas’ trigger law unconstitutional on the basis the legislation violates the First Amendment.
The abortion law was triggered Aug. 25, 30 days after the U.S. Supreme Court issued its official judgment related to the overturning of Roe v. Wade. The legislation prohibits all abortions except under limited circumstances, such as a “life-threatening condition to the mother caused by the pregnancy.”
Some women who now have to go out of state for abortions are spending between $800 and $2,000, according to Fund Texas Choice, one of the abortion support funds groups suing Paxton. Fund Texas Choice also said women are traveling an average of 14,000 miles now.
“I found out I was pregnant last year right when SB 8 went into effect and didn’t know what I was going to do,” Development and Communication Manager for Fund Texas Choice Jaylynn Farrmunson said.
Farrmunson moved to Texas right as abortions become illegal and left the state to get one. Now, she feels it’s her mission to help other women do the same, if they choose.
“I felt so infuriated that people have to go through this and travel all the way across the country just to access basic health care,” Farrmunson said. “That’s what motivated me to become more involved in reproductive justice.”
Other plaintiffs in the lawsuit include Texas Equal Access Fund, Frontera Fund, The Afiya Center, West Fund, Jane’s Due Process, Clinic Access Support Network, Lilith Fund and Dr. Ghazaleh Moayedi.
“Our clients are predominantly low income, people of color. They have families. They can’t afford this,” Executive Director of Lilith Fund Amanda Beatriz Williams said.
Those suing are worried they could be criminally prosecuted for giving women money to cross state lines.
The plaintiffs are also requesting a restraining order to prevent them from being prosecuted for helping to fund out-of-state travel for Texans seeking legal abortion care, according to a joint release from the groups.
The Texas Tribune reported the lawsuit states the abortion support funds want the court to confirm “the Trigger Ban cannot be enforced by any Defendant … in a manner that violates Plaintiffs’ rights to freely travel, freely associate, freely speak, and freely support members of their communities through financial assistance, as guaranteed by the United States Constitution and federal law.”
Groups like the Texas Alliance for Life want more awareness about the resources pregnant women have outside of abortions.
“We wish those organizations who are suing would realize the new reality and really help women with unplanned pregnancies to find compassionate alternatives to abortion,” Texas Alliance for Life Executive Director Joe Pojman said. Pojman shared a list of pro-life pregnancy support resources.
According to Pojman, the Texas Legislature gave $100 million to the program to help with abortion alternatives.
“Texas has been well prepared for this moment,” Pojman said.
Paxton didn’t show up in court on Monday.
Court records obtained by KXAN alleged Paxton tried to avoid being served with subpoenas at his McKinney home on Monday in relation to this court hearing. The records stated the attorney general refused taking the papers and got in a truck and left his home when a process server showed up.
Paxton tweeted he was trying to “avoid a stranger lingering outside [his] home and [show] concern about the safety and well-being of [his] family.”