Lyft, Uber Will Pay Legal Fees For Drivers Sued Under SB-8

AUSTIN, TX - SEPT 1: Pro-choice protesters perform outside the Texas State Capitol on Wednesday, Sep...
(Sergio Flores for the Washington Post via Getty Images)

Senate Bill 8, the Texas abortion law that all but bans abortions in the state, is being challenged by the likes of Uber and Lyft

Where to even start. At 12:01 a.m, on Wednesday, Sept. 1, the U.S. Supreme Court allowed the Texas law banning abortion six weeks after pregnancy take effect. Many people don’t even realize they are pregnant before the six-week mark, and roughly 85% of abortions in Texas take place after that time-period, according to advocacy groups and abortion providers attempting to sue to block the rights-stripping law.

The sense of dystopian dread isn’t only because pregnant people are in danger if they try to have an abortion performed while in state lines. Technically speaking, abortion hasn’t been criminalized in Texas. Instead, it is “authorizing a private civil right of action,” meaning anyone who suspects someone is getting an abortion can go into misogynistic vigilante mode and have someone arrested for trying to have a medical procedure done. Anyone who “aids and abets” said person can also face legal ramifications — like an independent contract driver for Uber or Lyft taking their passenger to get an abortion.

Companies have pledged to cover any legal fees should a driver get sued for taking someone to get an abortion.

“Imagine being a pregnant woman trying to get a healthcare appointment and not knowing if your driver will cancel on you for fear of breaking a law,” Lyft CEO Logan Green wrote. On September 3, he tweeted that Lyft would not be bending to this archaic law. “TX SB8 threatens to punish drivers for getting people where they need to go— especially women exercising their right to choose. @Lyft has created a Driver Legal Defense Fund to cover 100% of legal fees for drivers sued under SB8 while driving on our platform.” He also added that the company would be donating $1 million to Planned Parenthood.

His call to action from other companies quick took hold. Just over an hour after Green’s announcement, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi quote-tweeted him and added, “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.”

Dating-app companies Bumble and Match also took action.

“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,” the Austin, TX, based company tweeted. The company created a relief fund “supporting the reproductive rights of women and people across the gender spectrum who seek abortions in Texas,” while listing advocacy groups and organizations also fighting SB 8.

Match Group CEO Shar Dubey said she was personally creating a fund to support the company’s Texas-based workers and dependents should they need to seek medical support outside of state lines. Match is based in Dallas and also runs Hinge, Tinder, and OKCupid.

While it’s cool to see companies stepping up and supporting our right to seek abortion and medical treatment, it is unnerving to think that private companies, especially the ones that play such a heavy role in lawmaking, are who we are looking towards as our government continually fails us.