Abortion Activists Sue Pro-Lifers for Saying Abortion is “Criminal,” So They Sued Them Back

State   Tom Ciesielka   Jul 16, 2020   |   5:43PM    Austin, TX

Citizens across the state of Texas are taking legal action to protect themselves from speech-chilling lawsuits filed by abortion proponents. Attorneys from the Thomas More Society are playing offense in the Lone Star State to protect the rights of pro-life advocates in eight separate counties from as far west as Levelland to as far east as Carthage. The not-for-profit, national public interest law firm filed lawsuits in Texas’ district courts on July 16, 2020, seeking protections for life-advocating individuals against three abortion extremist groups that are actively attempting to silence pro-life speech.

Thomas More Society Special Counsel Erick Kaardal described the events that led to the filing of these civil rights complaints. “This trio of abortion-promoting groups is on a deliberate campaign to muzzle the voices of those who support life, especially when those voices seek to remind the public that the law of Texas continues to define abortion as a criminal offense, despite Roe v. Wade.”

The lawsuits are seeking legal protection of these individuals’ First Amendment rights. The filings were prompted by aggressive attacks against pro-life advocates by abortion promoters, Afiya Center, Texas Equal Access Fund, and Lilith Fund for Reproductive Equity, who sued pro-life advocate Mark Lee Dickson and Right to Life of East Texas in June 2020 for alleged defamation over statements that described abortion as “criminal.”

The Thomas More Society seeks a declaratory judgment on behalf of Texas individuals who hold life-affirming views and understand that the Texas statutes criminalizing abortion remain state law.

“We are merely requesting that the court affirm the truth about Texas law, which is that Texas has never repealed its pre-Roe statutes that outlaw abortion. Therefore, it is both truthful and non-defamatory to describe abortion as a criminal act under Texas law,” Kaardal elaborated.

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“It is often assumed that the Supreme Court’s judgment in Roe v. Wade somehow cancelled or formally revoked the Texas statutes that outlaw abortion unless the mother’s life is in danger,” noted Kaardal. “However, the federal judiciary has no power to erase a statute that it declares to be unconstitutional. Roe merely limits the ability of Texas officials to enforce the state’s abortion statutes against those who violate them. The 1973 United State Supreme Court decision does not, and cannot, veto or repeal the statutes themselves. Texas’s criminal prohibitions on abortion continue to exist as state law until they are repealed by the legislature that enacted them.”

“Therefore, it is entirely truthful for individuals to describe abortion as ‘criminal,’” Kaardal continued. “Those who do so cannot be subjected to defamation lawsuits for describing abortion providers and abortion-assistance organizations as ‘criminal’ entities.”

Kaardal is joined in defending the rights of these Texas citizens by Thomas More Society President and Chief Counsel Tom Brejcha, Thomas More Society Senior Counsel Martin Whittaker, Attorney Jonathan F. Mitchell (former Texas Solicitor General), Texas State Senator and Attorney Bryan Hughes (District 1), and Attorneys H. Dustin Fillmore III and Charles W. Fillmore, both of the Fillmore Law Firm.

Read the eight separate lawsuits, filed July 16, 2020, in the District Courts for the Texas Counties of Eastland, Franklin, Hockley, Hood, Panola, Rusk, Smith, and Taylor: