A Texas man, Marcus Silva, is suing three of his ex-wife’s friends for $1 million each, claiming that by helping her obtain an abortion medication, they engaged in a wrongful death conspiracy. Silva is being represented by Jonathan Mitchell, one of the architects of the SB 8 anti-abortion “bounty hunter” bill.
Text messages revealed from the lawsuit, showing that the woman was afraid Silva would use the pregnancy to force her back into a relationship, seem to confirm activists’ warnings that abortion bans will enable widespread domestic abuse.
The lawsuit describes a nightmare scenario faced by women across the country. The woman in question legally divorced Silva in February 2022. In July, she discovered she was pregnant with a child conceived with Silva. She reached out to friends via text for help.
Text messages from the lawsuit show that the woman was struggling with a crisis. If she kept the baby, her ex-husband would use it to force her back into the relationship she had just escaped. “I know either way he will use it against me,” she wrote.
“If I told him before, which I’m not, he would use it [to] try to stay with me. And after the fact, I know he will try to act like he has some right to the decision. At that point, at least it won’t matter though.”
Her friends texted, “Mistakes happen … You can’t spiral. Hopefully this is the slap in the body that you need to remove yourself from him.”
Further texts seem to indicate that the friends helped her obtain an abortion medication, for which she expressed her gratitude: “[Y]our help means the world to me … I[‘]m so lucky to have y’all. Really … I was stupid to be doing it all. I didn’t think this would happen since it hasn’t in 7 f—— years either. But it’s still on me. I know I f—– up. Not letting that s— happen again.”
Silva and his lawyer, Mitchell, did in fact “use it against” his ex as she feared by suing the friends for obscene amounts of money and claiming that they committed murder.
Under Texas’ extreme and layered anti-abortion laws, domestic abusers, anti-abortion activists and even complete strangers have a full legal arsenal at their disposal to attack abortion rights. People who perform abortion face potential felony charges of up to life in prison and civil penalties of at least $100,000. In addition, SB 8, the “bounty hunter” bill, enables anyone to sue someone for a minimum of $10,000 for performing or facilitating an abortion.
In Silva’s case, he is pursuing a different legal attack, claiming that the abortion is a murder and pursuing wrongful death civil penalties. Silva also intends to add the manufacturer of the medication to the lawsuit, a similar strategy to the lawsuit that may lead to the banning of abortion pills nationwide.
The government of Texas and anti-abortion groups are throwing every possible legal challenge at abortion, hoping to use these cases as testing grounds to unroll new mechanisms for stopping abortion across the country. At the same time, they are exporting their successful anti-abortion strategies — such as “bounty bills” — to be used against drag shows and LGBTQ people.
But activists across the state are not allowing this to go unchallenged.
Dora Orjel, of the San Antonio-based Mujeres Marcharán Coalition, exposed the dangerous ramifications for domestic abuse: “I am trying to wrap my head around where he finds justice in suing those who assisted his wife in getting the means to self-abort. This just shows how much control he had and continues to have over her.”
Rachell Tucker, an organizer with the Party for Socialism and Liberation, spoke out against the decades-long attack and the complacency of the Democrats, and named working-class self-organization as the way to fight back.
The rightwing has been launching an offensive on women for decades, but what’s worse is the Democrats have used our rights to abortion as a bargaining chip. They have refused to defend us. They have refused to codify and have continued to say they have our backs, but have abandoned us at the most crucial moment. They have left us to fend for ourselves. We must get organized, unify and fight — and that’s what we are doing.
For International Women’s Day on March 8, Mujeres Marcharán held a march that drew hundreds into the street to demand an expansion of abortion rights and LGBTQ rights, in addition to safe housing for all and public transportation, issues that affect all working women. In Houston, the PSL organized a women’s self-defense class; and in Dallas, PSL organizers held an event featuring poetry, speeches, live music, vendors and food. The event celebrated women and culture, but sharply connected the political struggles for women’s and LGBTQ liberation.
There is still a difficult struggle ahead, but the entire weight of Texas’ oppressive political and legal system has failed to stop the full range of rage, love, study and self-organization of grassroots, working-class feminists. All across Texas, la lucha sigue (the struggle continues)!