Ride-sharing app Lyft will cover 100% of legal costs for drivers sued under Texas’ restrictive new abortion law SB8, which allows individuals to sue someone taking a woman for the now-illegal procedure.
In a statement late Friday, co-founders Logan Green and John Zimmer said the law is “inconsistent with people’s fundamental rights to privacy, our Community Guidelines, the spirit of ridesharing and our values as ‘business”.
The Texas law, which went into effect Wednesday, prohibits abortions once medical professionals can detect heart activity, usually about six weeks, and before many women know they are pregnant. While a dozen states have attempted to enact bans on early pregnancy, those laws have been blocked by the courts.
Texas may have found a way around federal courts by adopting an unusual enforcement regime that allows private citizens to sue abortion providers and anyone involved in state court. assistance with an abortion, including someone driving a woman to a clinic. The law provides for a minimum compensation of $10,000 for a successful trial, but does not require government officials to criminally enforce the law.
To protect both drivers and customers, Lyft has established a legal defense fund that will cover the full cost of legal action if a driver is sued. The company is also donating $1 million to Planned Parenthood.
“We want to be clear: Drivers are never responsible for monitoring where their passengers are going or why. Imagine being a driver and not knowing if you are breaking the law by taking someone,” Green and Zimmer wrote in part.
“Similarly, runners never have to justify, or even share, where they are going and why,” they added. “Imagine being a pregnant woman trying to get to a medical appointment and not knowing if your driver will cancel you for fear of breaking a law.”
In a statement shared on Twitter, Green encouraged other companies to join Lyft’s effort.
Taxi drivers and those employed by Uber, as well as a private driver, could also be prosecuted under the new law. It allows any private citizen to sue Texas abortion providers who break the law, as well as anyone who “aids or abets” a woman to undergo the procedure. However, patients who have had an abortion themselves cannot be prosecuted.
Following Green’s Twitter post, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi pledged to do the same in terms of legal fees.
“Of course @logangreen – drivers shouldn’t be put at risk to get people where they want to go,” Khosrowshahi wrote on Twitter. “The @Uber team is also on board and will cover the legal costs as well. Thanks for the help.”
Spectrum News has contacted Uber for a statement.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.