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Texas man sues Houston women he claims aided his ex-wife get abortion pills, end pregnancy

Austin American-Statesman logo Austin American-Statesman 3/13/2023 Ryan Autullo, Austin American-Statesman

A man who claims his now-ex-wife terminated a pregnancy last summer is suing three Houston women in a wrongful death lawsuit for helping with the procedure, marking the first such case under Texas' near total ban on abortion.

Attorney Jonathan Mitchell, the former state solicitor general who engineered the state's ban on abortion after six weeks, and state Rep. Briscoe Cain, R-Deer Park, filed the suit on behalf of Marcus Silva. The suit was filed in Galveston County, where Silva lives.

Silva claims the abortion happened in July, after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, upending a woman's federal right to an abortion, but before the August date when the state's abortion ban is commonly thought to have taken effect.

Before the near-complete abortion ban, Texas allowed the procedure up until fetal cardiac activity could be detected, or about the sixth week of pregnancy. But the lawsuit says that even then an abortion was illegal in Texas when performed by anyone other than a licensed physician.

In text messages from last summer that were introduced in the lawsuit, the woman says she believes she is five weeks pregnant.

The lawsuit claims that, under Texas law, a person who assists a pregnant woman in obtaining a self-managed abortion has committed murder and can be sued for wrongful death.

Two of the women are being sued for helping Silva’s wife obtain abortion pills and for offering their homes to the woman to use for the termination. The third woman being sued is accused of delivering the pills used in the abortion.

Silva’s lawyer wrote in the lawsuit that the defendants “all knew that they were aiding or abetting a self-managed abortion, which is a wrongful act and a criminal act of murder under Texas law.”

Silva’s ex-wife is not a defendant in the suit. State law says a woman who obtains an abortion is exempt from liability, and Silva is not taking action against her. 

The petition relies on text messages that reveal a conversation by the women to obtain pills for the abortion and to keep Silva from finding out by encouraging his wife to delete the messages from her phone. Silva, who divorced from his wife in February, says he only recently learned about the abortion.

In one message, Silva’s wife expressed concerns about him finding out about the pregnancy. 

“I know either way he will use it against me," the woman wrote in the text, according to the lawsuit. "If I told him before, which I’m not, he would use it to try to stay with me. And after the fact, I know he will try to act like he has some right to the decision.”

One of the defendants texted Silva’s wife information from a website that ships abortion pills into jurisdictions where abortion is illegal. But, after someone on the text exchange raised legal concerns with that option, a new plan formed to obtain the pills in Houston, the lawsuit says.

Later, the group discussed the optimal day for the woman to begin taking the pills.

“I can start it when I get home from my night meeting on Thursday,” the woman said, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit says the pills' manufacturer will be added as a defendant if it is identified in discovery.

Silva is asking the court to award him more than $1 million in damages and issue an injunction that restrains the defendants from assisting in abortions.

This article originally appeared on Austin American-Statesman: Texas man sues Houston women he claims aided his ex-wife get abortion pills, end pregnancy


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