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White House Slams Texas Republicans Targeting Sidley on Abortion

July 11, 2022, 8:51 PM

President Joe Biden’s spokesperson on Monday condemned Texas Republican lawmakers’ threat to penalize Sidley Austin and other Texas law firms that have pledged to pay for out-of-state abortions.

“These punitive actions and extreme proposals from elected Republicans are exactly what the President has been warning about,” White House assistant press secretary Alexandra LaManna said.

She was responding to a Texas Freedom Caucus letter sent July 7 to the Dallas-based chair of Sidley Austin’s management committee, Yvette Ostolaza. The caucus said the firm was “exposing itself and each of its partners to felony criminal prosecution and disbarment” by aiding employees seeking abortions.

Texas last year implemented a law that prohibits abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected and allows citizens to sue those who aid people in receiving the procedure.

The state also has a “trigger” law banning the procedure that went into effect following the Supreme Court’s Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization ruling June 24 that overturned the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that had legalized abortion in the U.S.

Sidley Austin could not immediately be reached for comment. Texas Rep. Mayes Middleton, chair of the Freedom Caucus, also could not immediately be reached for comment.

Nearly a quarter of the nation’s top 100 law firms, including Sidley, have pledged to cover abortions and reproductive health travel costs for employees where restrictions are in place.

“The Supreme Court’s outrageous decision,” LaManna said, “has given these Republican officials the green light for a radical agenda—including a nationwide abortion ban passed by Congress—and they are accelerating their agenda to take away Americans’ rights, now attacking the Constitutional right to travel between states at will.”

— With assistance from Justin Wise

To contact the reporter on this story: Meghan Tribe in New York at mtribe@bloomberglaw.com;
Courtney Rozen in Washington at crozen@bgov.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chris Opfer at copfer@bloomberglaw.com;
John Hughes at jhughes@bloombergindustry.com