Lyft and Uber are committing to pay legal fees for any driver on their respective platforms who get sued under Texas’ controversial anti-abortion law.
The new law, which was signed this week by Texas governor Greg Abbott, bans abortions of fetuses after six weeks (which is before many women even know they are pregnant) and offers no exceptions for rape or incest. The law also empowers private citizens across the country to sue anyone for “aiding and abetting” abortions past the six-week mark, including clinics, anyone who pays for the abortion, or even people who drive someone to the procedure.
“This is an attack on women’s access to healthcare and on their right to choose,” Lyft co-founder and CEO Logan Green tweeted Friday afternoon. Green said Lyft is creating a “driver legal defense fund” to cover 100 percent of legal fees if drivers on its platform get sued under the new law. He said Lyft is also donating $1 million to Planned Parenthood to “ensure that transportation is never a barrier to healthcare access.”
Shortly after, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi announced in a tweet that his company would follow suit. “[D]rivers shouldn’t be put at risk for getting people to where they want to go,” he wrote. Uber “will cover legal fees in the same way,” he said, quoting Green’s tweet. “Thanks for the push.”
The announcements from Uber and Lyft came after Bumble and Match Group (which owns Tinder) announced the creation of a relief fund for women seeking abortions. Match Group CEO Shar Dubey said in an internal memo obtained by Reuters that the company “generally does not take political stands unless it is relevant to our business. But in this instance, I personally, as a woman in Texas, could not keep silent.” Both companies are headquartered in Texas.
Pressure ramped up on companies that do business in Texas to act late this week after the Supreme Court’s conservative majority (minus Chief Justice John Roberts) declined to step in and halt the restrictive law. But so far corporations have only announced reactive measures like defense funds, despite calls to move their business elsewhere.
It’s also possible that the law could spur an explosion of requests to tech companies for information on users who may have helped someone get an abortion, Evan Greer, director of the digital rights group Fight for the Future, told Protocol this week.