Texas attorney general who tried to flee abortion subpoena ordered to testify




  • In Politics
  • 2022-10-05 15:30:56Z
  • By The Guardian
Photograph: Elizabeth Frantz/Reuters
Photograph: Elizabeth Frantz/Reuters  

The Texas attorney general, Ken Paxton, must testify in court in an abortion lawsuit after a federal judge reversed his decision to quash a subpoena filed by pro-choice interests.

Reproductive rights groups filed a class-action lawsuit against Paxton's office in August in an attempt to stop possible prosecution of abortion funds that help women seek the procedure outside Texas, which has banned almost all abortion.

US district judge Robert Pitman granted a motion from lawyers representing abortion rights non-profits, which asked the judge to require Paxton to testify.

Pitman had previously ruled to quash the subpoena upon Paxton's request on the basis that he could not be compelled to testify in a hearing as a high-ranking government official.

Emails from the lawyers for the abortion funds show they tried repeatedly to serve Paxton through his attorneys before the hearing.

A process server then tried to serve Paxton with the subpoena at his residence. When he arrived at Paxton's home, according to an affidavit, the server knocked on the door and said he was there to deliver legal documents. Paxton later fled in a truck driven by his wife, state senator and Republican, Angela Paxton.

Paxton said in a tweet that he was trying to avoid "a stranger lingering outside" his home when he fled in his truck.

Pitman's reversal on Tuesday came after he learned Paxton failed to disclose repeated emails from the plaintiffs.

"The court will not sanction a scheme where Paxton repeatedly labels his threats of prosecution as real for the purposes of deterrence and as hypothetical for the purposes of judicial review," Pitman wrote.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit filed in Austin are Fund Texas Choice, the North Texas Equal Access Fund, the Lilith Fund for Reproductive Equity, Frontera Fund, The Afiya Center, West Fund, Jane's Due Process, Clinic Access Support Network and Dr Ghazaleh Moayedi.

Besides Paxton, a Republican, the suit names county and district attorneys who could enforce the state's near-total abortion ban. The law, known as House Bill 1280, was triggered into effect after the US supreme court in June overturned Roe v Wade, ending the constitutional right to abortion.

At least 14 states have banned most abortions. In September, a judge in Arizona ruled that a near-total abortion ban must be enforced. The law, which dates back to 1864, orders a prison sentence of up to five years for anyone who helps a woman obtain an abortion.

The supreme court's ruling has also made patients face delays and refusals in getting medications that can be used for abortions as well as the primary reason given for being prescribed.

A 14-year-old girl in Arizona was denied a refill for a medication to treat her arthritis after the state's new abortion law had taken effect. Emma Thompson had been taking methotrexate, a medication that is also used to end ectopic pregnancies, to treat her rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis.

Walgreens notified the family last month that they would need a doctor's permission before a pharmacist could fill the prescription despite having been refilled in the past.

In July, the American College of Rheumatology released a statement recommending pharmacists to fulfill methotrexate prescriptions "without delay and with the assumption that they are not being used to terminate a pregnancy".

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