Nice Time! Uber, Lyft, Dating Apps Stand Up Against Texas Abortion Ban Tyranny
One of the more sinister aspects of the Texas abortion ban is that it lets anti-choice busybodies sue any random person remotely associated with a pregnant citizen exercising their constitutional rights. This isn't limited to abortion providers but also the ride share driver who transported them to an abortion clinic. The driver could be slapped with a $10,000 lawsuit for “aiding and abetting." The legal principle behind this is deranged, which is why it's so appalling that the Supreme Court said “nothing to see here."
Calling the Texas law an assault on the right to choose, San Francisco-based Lyft announced last week that it would cover 100 percent of the legal fees for drivers sued because they gave someone a ride in our new Handmaid's Tale reality.
"We want to be clear: Drivers are never responsible for monitoring where their riders go or why. Imagine being a driver and not knowing if you are breaking the law by giving someone a ride," Lyft said in a statement. "Similarly, riders never have to justify, or even share, where they are going and why. Imagine being a pregnant woman trying to get to a healthcare appointment and not knowing if your driver will cancel on you for fear of breaking a law."
Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi announced a similar policy on Twitter.
Right on @logangreen - drivers shouldn’t be put at risk for getting people where they want to go. Team @Uber is in… https://t.co/RDZpXDyPP3— dara khosrowshahi (@dara khosrowshahi) 1630701964.0
Right on @logangreen - drivers shouldn't be put at risk for getting people where they want to go. Team @Uber is in too and will cover legal fees in the same way. Thanks for the push.
A January 6 insurrection suspect from Texas took a private jet to Washington DC. The pilot was not charged or sued, and this reminds me how the Texas abortion ban goes out of its way to penalize lower income people. Republicans claim abortion is murder but we don't attempt to enforce prohibitions against murder solely through “fines" because rich people would just pay the fines. It's like "The Avengers" episode where rich people would lure their victims to a small English village, kill them in broad daylight, and then pay off everyone in the village.
Uber and Lyft, of course, aren't paying off these bounties directly but will fight them in court and ideally win. Although I'm not always a fan of their business practices, in this instance, at least, they are using their corporate might for good. Lyft's also donating to Planned Parenthood, which we all should do.
Rival dating apps Bumble and Match arguably inspired Uber and Lyft to action when the Texas-based companies announced they would both create relief funds to help Texas employees affected by the law.
Bumble (BMBLF), which is based in the state capital of Austin and led by CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd, said Wednesday that it has created a fund "supporting the reproductive rights of women and people across the gender spectrum who seek abortions in Texas."
"Bumble is women-founded and women-led, and from day one we've stood up for the most vulnerable. We'll keep fighting against regressive laws like #SB8," it said on Twitter, referring to the state law that was signed by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott in May and took effect this week.
There's an ongoing debate over whether boycotts and economic sanctions against states like Texas that pass oppressive laws are an effective measure or if they only hurt the most economically vulnerable, who can't readily leave the state. My own thoughts are complicated on the issue, so for now let's just enjoy this corporate nice time.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. Once, he wrote a novel called “Mahogany Slade,” which you should read or at least buy. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."