San Antonio Sued by Texas Anti-Abortion Groups for Creating a Reproductive Health Fund

Texas Right to Life told Jezebel this was the next step in stopping people from helping abortion patients from leave the state.

San Antonio Sued by Texas Anti-Abortion Groups for Creating a Reproductive Health Fund
Anti-abortion rights demonstrators protest during a Women’s March in Austin, Texas on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022. Photo:Montinique Monroe/Bloomberg (Getty Images)

In September, the San Antonio City Council passed a record $3.7 billion budget, which included approval of $500,000 for a reproductive health fund. The fund is intended to help cover out-of-state travel for abortion patients, but could also cover things like STD testing and health training, according to Axios. The budget took effect October 1 and, on Tuesday, a bunch of anti-abortion groups sued the city, its mayor, and its city manager, to block the fund.

The lawsuit was submitted by Jonathan Mitchell (the architect of Texas’ six-week abortion ban and bounty hunter scheme) and aims to prevent groups like Buckle Bunnies (an abortion fund that helps people find out-of-state abortion care and funds practical support options), legal group Jane’s Due Process (who work with minors to obtain abortion care), and Sueños Sin Fronteras (a group that helps immigrants obtain abortion care) from getting funding. Texas Right to Life, San Antonio Family Association, and Texas Leadership Coalition are among some of the groups suing.

Many abortion funds in Texas paused their work after Roe v. Wade was overturned in 2022, but in February 2023, a federal judge ruled that abortion funds “likely cannot be criminally charged” for providing funding for out-of-state travel, according to the Texas Tribune. But in an interview with Jezebel Texas Right to Life President John Seago said this lawsuit is the next step toward stopping abortion patients from leaving the state.

“We’re trying to say, you know, by even assisting a woman and paying for a woman’s travel outside of the state, that would count, that would be prohibited by Texas law,” Seago told Jezebel by phone. “These organizations have helped women order abortion drugs online and have them delivered in Texas, that’s also illegal.”

Meanwhile, San Antonio city attorney Andy Segovia said that while
the funds have yet to be dispersed, a lawsuit won’t derail that work. “It is unfortunate taxpayer funds will be spent on defending against this lawsuit based on misinformation and false allegations,” Segovia said in a statement to Jezebel. “The facts are that a decision has not been made on how that money will be used. The City Council will have an open work session to discuss the use of the funds that will be managed by the City’s Metro Health Department. The funds will be distributed in accordance with State and Federal Laws.”

However, groups like Texas Right to Life maintain that the groups are committing crimes. “We’re trying to get as a clear, you know, kind of ruling that these are criminal activities, and any city that wants to fund those activities would be now participating in this criminal endeavor,” Seago told Jezebel. “And that’s really important that we get that cleared up in court to stop these organizations from what they’ve been doing for the last few years.”

This isn’t the first time this tactic has come up in a Mitchell-represented lawsuit. Earlier this month, a woman whose friends are being sued by her ex-husband (represented by Mitchell) for allegedly helping her procure abortion pills was subpoenaed to provide communication about her alleged abortion and her friends’ behavior.

“We’re still gonna fund San Antonio abortions,” Buckle Bunnies tweeted on Tuesday night. Jane’s Due Process interim executive director Jaymie Cobb told KSAT that the fund can be used to pay for abortion as well as postpartum and prenatal support. “But, you know, reproductive justice is about more than abortion, and it is about abortion. So we are hopeful,” Cobb told the television station. “And what we’re doing is not illegal. We are helping people access to health care that they deserve to have in their home state.”

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