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Uber, Lyft to pay legal fees for drivers sued under Texas' new abortion law

Uber, Lyft to pay legal fees for drivers sued under Texas' new abortion law
Lyft and Uber say their drivers must not be made to pay for women seeking to "exercise their right to choose." File Photo by Raysonho@Open Grid Scheduler/Wikimedia Commons

Sept. 4 (UPI) -- Uber and Lyft will pay legal fees for drivers sued because of Texas' new abortion law provisions against helping women get an abortion.

The law, Senate Bill 8, outlaws abortions in the state after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which doctors say can occur as soon as six weeks after conception. The new measure took effect Wednesday after the U.S. Supreme Court voted 5-4 against abortion providers in the state who had filed an emergency application for relief against the law.

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It allows private citizens to sue women who obtain abortions and physicians who perform. It also imposes civil liability against those helping a woman get an abortion -- including anyone who drives a patient to the procedure.

Uber and Lyft executives voiced concern about their drivers being sued for dropping off or picking up passengers for abortion clinics.

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"TX SB8 threatens to punish drivers for getting people where they need to go -- especially women exercising their right to choose," Lyft CEO Logan Green tweeted. "Lyft has created a Driver Legal Defense fund to cover 100% of legal fees for drivers sued under SB8 while driving on our platform."

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Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi praised Green for the move in his own tweet and said Uber would similarly cover legal fees.

Lyft said in a statement that "drivers are never responsible for monitoring where their riders go or why," and the new law was "incompatible with people's basic rights to privacy."

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The company also said it was donating $1 million to Planned Parenthood "to help ensure that transportation is never a barrier to healthcare access."

On Friday, a Texas judge temporarily prevented Texas Right to Life, a private anti-abortion group, from invoking the new ban against abortion providers with Planned Parenthood.

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