Earlier this month, Republican Texas House lawmaker Briscoe Cain sent Texas abortion funds cease-and-desist letters, threatening the funds, their donors and volunteers with criminal prosecution unless they stopped helping fund abortions in Texas.
Now, the Texas Equal Access Fund, a major abortion fund, has published a letter calling Cain’s statements false and defamatory, and threatning to “explore all legal options.”
“Your letters falsely accuse our clients of engaging in criminal acts by funding abortions in any situation in which the mother’s life is not in danger,” reads the response letter by attorneys with the Thompson Coburn law firm. “This accusation, which you have made public by publishing the letters on social media, is objectively false, and has been for almost 50 years.”
“Your unfounded criminal accusations are also defamatory,” the letter continues. “It is per se defamation to falsely accuse someone of criminal acts in Texas. You publicized these letters on social media and issued a press release in which you call our clients ‘criminal organizations.’ Therefore, the false and defamatory statements have been published to a potentially unlimited number of third parties. Your decision to publish these statements on social media demonstrates that the defamatory effect of your words is intentional. Therefore, it is imperative that you immediately retract and/or clarify your defamatory statements.”
“If you do not issue this retraction, our clients will have no choice but to explore all legal options,” the letter concludes, threatening to seek injunctive relief requiring a retraction or clarification of Cain’s statements, or damages to compensate the defamation, damages to clients, and legal fees.
The letter was sent on behalf of several abortion funds in Texas; The North Texas Equal Access Fund, Lilith Fund for Reproductive Equity, The Afiya Center, Frontera Fund, The West Fund, Clinic Access Support Network, and Fund Texas Choice.
These abortion funds have taken on their largest role yet since Senate Bill 8 went into effect more than 200 days ago. The law allows private citizens in Texas to sue anyone who “aids or abets” an abortion after six weeks of pregnancy, a legal threat that has effectively banned abortion in the state. Since the law went into effect, more copycat laws have sprung up in states around the country. Abortions in Texas have dropped by about 50 percent since the law, according to the AP.
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Fernando covers Texas politics and government at the Texas Signal. Before joining the Signal, Fernando spent two years at the Houston Chronicle and previously interned at Houston’s NPR station News 88.7. He is a graduate of the University of Houston, Jack J. Valenti School of Communication, and enjoys reading, highlighting things, and arguing on social media. You can follow him on Twitter at @fernramirez93 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org