After the Supreme Court declined to block a highly restrictive abortion law in Texas, the state almost immediately began facing backlash from several companies — including Uber and Lyft — that quickly denounced the measure and vowed to fight against it.
Now, as soon as Wednesday, the Lone Star State could be up against economic retaliation from an entire city.
The city council in Portland, Ore., is planning to vote on Wednesday on an emergency resolution that would ban the city government from purchasing goods or services from the state of Texas “until the unconstitutional ban on abortion is withdrawn or overturned in court,” according to a statement from Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler.
“The Portland City Council stands unified in its belief that all people should have the right to choose if and when they carry a pregnancy and that the decisions they make are complex, difficult, and unique to their circumstances,” the statement from last Friday said. Wheeler added that Portland’s legal counsel was “evaluating the legal aspects” of the proposal, which also includes halting city employee business travel to the state.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed the legislation into law this past May, and it equates to a near-total ban on abortions — barring the procedure after about six weeks, before many people are aware they are pregnant.
In a late-night decision last Wednesday, the divided court voted 5-4 that it would allow for the Texas abortion statute to stand as the legal battle over the law continued in the lower courts. Chief Justice John Roberts joined with the court’s three liberal justice members — supporters of abortion rights — in dissenting.
The law has already kickstarted a national fight over the divisive political issue.
In Portland, Mayor Wheeler said the City Council is urging other leaders and elected bodies “around the nation to join us in condemning the actions of the Texas state government.”
“This law does not demonstrate concern for the health, safety, and well-being of those who may become pregnant. This law does not recognize or show respect for the human rights of those who may become pregnant,” he said in the statement. “This law rewards private individuals for exercising surveillance and control over others’ bodies. It violates the separation of church and state. And, it will force people to carry pregnancies against their will.”
Wheeler concluded: “Portland City Council stands with the people who may one day face difficult decisions about pregnancy, and we respect their right to make the best decision for themselves.”
Wheeler joined a chorus of companies voicing their objections to the ban. Drivers who bring Texans in need of an abortion to clinics or providers in the state could be sued by residents who take issue with the procedure. As a result, both Uber and Lyft said last Friday they would cover the legal costs of their drivers if they found themselves in such a situation.
Logan Green, the CEO and cofounder of Lyft, labeled Senate Bill 8 as “an attack on women’s access to healthcare and on their right to choose,” and said the company had created a Driver Legal Defense Fund to cover all the “legal fees for drivers sued under SB8 while driving on our platform” in a tweet on Friday.
Green also said the company was donating “$1 million to Planned Parenthood to ensure that transportation is never a barrier to healthcare access.” Dara Khosrowshahi, the CEO of Uber, followed up with a similar pledge shortly after.
“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,” Khosrowshahi tweeted. “Thanks for the push.”
Meanwhile, both the Dallas-based Match and Austin-based Bumble — two highly popular dating apps — said they were creating funds to support those affected by the new law. And the web hosting company GoDaddy booted prolifewhistleblower.com — a site affiliated with Texas Right to Life — off its platform for violating its “terms of service.”
Portland officials said Tuesday that the city’s plan to boycott services and goods from Texas could cost companies in the state “millions of dollars a year,” the Oregonian/Oregon Live reported. A spokeswoman with Portland’s Office of Management and Finance said over the past five years, the city has signed nearly $35 million in contracts with businesses based in Texas.