Lyft to Donate $1M to Planned Parenthood, Pay Legal Fees for Drivers Sued under Texas Abortion Law

An empty Lyft pick-up area in Los Angeles, Calif., August 20, 2020. (Mike Blake/Reuters)

Lyft and Uber announced Friday they will pay the legal fees for any of their drivers who are sued under Texas’ new law that prohibits abortion after a heartbeat can be detected.

The law allows private citizens to enforce the measure. Though patients may not be sued, any individual can sue the people “knowingly” assisting the procedure, including doctors, those paying for the abortion and clinic workers.

Plaintiffs in litigation cases resulting from the law’s implementation can earn up to $10,000 in damages.

“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 announcing the policy.

“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. Both are completely unacceptable,” Lyft added.

However, it is unlikely that the law would apply to rideshare drivers, as they would be unlikely to “knowingly” transport a woman who was having an abortion after a heartbeat had been detected. 

Lyft announced it would create a defense fund to completely cover any legal fees incurred by drivers because of the law and also pledged to donate $1 million to Planned Parenthood.

Lyft CEO Logan Green wrote in a tweet that the law is “an attack on women’s access to healthcare and on their right to choose.”

He added that the company’s donation will help “ensure that transportation is never a barrier to healthcare access.”

Soon after, Uber announced it would also pay drivers’ legal fees.

“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,” Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said in a tweet.

The rideshare companies’ announcements come after the dating app Bumble announced this week that it will create a fund to help people seeking abortions in Texas, where it is based. Shar Dubey, the CEO of Match, which owns dating apps including Tinder and is based in Texas, announced that she would personally start a fund to assist employees and their dependents who are impacted by the law.

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