On Thursday morning, pro-lifers in Texas filed lawsuits in several parts of the state to fight back against litigation threatening free speech. The defendants named in the suit are the Lilith Fund for Reproductive Equity, the Texas Equal Access Fund, and the Afiya Center. Last month, these abortion organizations filed suit against pro-life pastor Mark Lee Dickson and Right to Life East Texas, alleging defamation.
The abortion groups’ lawsuit last month came weeks after some of the same organizations dropped a suit against several Texas cities that had adopted ordinances as Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn, banning abortion within their city limits. The groups filed suit allegedly because Dickson and Right to Life East Texas called abortion groups “criminal organizations” and referred to abortion as “murder.”
A press release from the Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn organization stated, “Each of these defendants [abortion organizations named above] has been stifling pro-life speech by filing defamation lawsuits against individuals who truthfully state that abortion remains a criminal offense under Texas law.” Thomas More Society Special Counsel Erick Kaardal, representing the plaintiffs stated, “We are merely requesting that the court affirm the truth about Texas law, which is that Texas has never repealed its pre-Roe statutes that outlaw abortion.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 continued that the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision does not nullify Texas statutes banning abortion, though it does declare these unconstitutional. He explained, “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 Texas’s criminal prohibitions on abortion continue to exist as state law until they are repealed by the legislature that enacted them.”
The Thomas More Society filed lawsuits in the district courts of Eastland, Franklin, Hockley, Hood, Panola, Rusk, Smith, and Taylor counties. In addition to Kaardal, the pro-lifers are represented 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.
Editor’s Note, 7/20/20: The first published version of this article left out Panola County in the list of lawsuits, and described the ordinances as declarations. These items have been corrected.
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