Driver Who Refused to Take Women for Abortions Wins Lawsuit

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 26, 2011   |   12:10PM   |   Austin, TX

An Austin, Texas-based drive for the public Capital Area Rural Transportation System has won a settlement in a lawsuit he filed against the agency when he was disciplined for refusing to take two women to appointments for abortions.

Edwin Graning filed suit last year in U.S. District Court in Austin when officials with the nine-county public transportation system discriminated against him. Officials with the agency told news outlets in Texas they agreed to settle the case when they realized it would cost less to do so than to continue defending the agency in court.

Graning was dispatched to take the two women to Planned Parenthood for abortions in January 2010 and the lawsuit says he called his supervisor “and told her that, in good conscience, he could not take someone to have an abortion.” He was later fired for his refusal to transport the women.

He told the Austin American-Statesman on Monday that the settlement was “fair” and said, “I was put in a position and I was asked to participate in something I am strongly against. That’s what caused this whole thing.”

But Burnet County Commissioner Ronny Hibler, who is on the CARTS board, told the newspaper Graning was rightfully fired, saying, “There’s a lot of things as a county commissioner that I don’t like, but I do it because it’s my job.”

David Marsh, general manager of the Capital Area Rural Transportation System, told the newspaper that CARTS now makes it clear to all drivers when they are hired that they must take users of the bus system to any destination.

The system, provides bus services in the nine metro counties, received the lawsuit from the American Center for Law & Justice, which defended Graning, who says he is also an ordained pastor and opposes abrotion. The settlement prohibits Graning from seeking employment with the CARTS system in the future.