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Texas Nonprofit That Helps Women Pay For Abortions Sues Anti-Abortion Group For Defamation

Gabriel C. Pérez
/
KUT

The Texas Equal Access Fund, which provides financial support for low-income women seeking an abortion, sued anti-abortion activists in Dallas County on Thursday for accusing the group of criminal activity.

Abortions are not a crime in Texas – and neither is providing financial assistance to a private citizen for the procedure. But the Texas Equal Access Fund, which filed the suit along with the the Lilith Fund and Afiya Center, claim that hasn’t stopped Mark Lee Dickson and Right to Life East Texas from calling it a criminal organization.

“Defendants’ lies about TEA Fund and the other organizations are as simple as they are appalling,” plaintiffs claim in the lawsuit. “They have repeatedly stated that TEA Fund and the other organizations are literal criminals when Defendants know that is not true.”

Kamyon Conner, executive director of the Texas Equal Access Fund, said her group was defamed during Right to Life East Texas’ effort last year to get small Texas cities to pass laws completely banning abortions.

“We just can’t continue to tolerate misinformation being presented to the public around abortion,” she said, “because folks are already so confused and abortion is already so stigmatized.”

Plaintiffs filed their suit around the anniversary of the Waskom City Council  passing an abortion ban. Conner said during passage of that ban anti-abortion activists accused the TEA Fund of committing crimes in City Council meetings, social media posts and to the media.

An attorney representing TEA Fund said this defamation suit is the first of its kind.

“We are trying a new strategy,” Conner said. “We are filing the lawsuit to reject the lies … and to remind Texans that we are here to help them.”

Got a tip? Email Ashley Lopez at alopez@kut.org. Follow her on Twitter @AshLopezRadio .

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Copyright 2020 KUT 90.5. To see more, visit .

Ashley Lopez joined KUT in January 2016. She covers politics and health care, and is part of the NPR-Kaiser Health News reporting collaborative. Previously she worked as a reporter at public radio stations in Louisville, Ky.; Miami and Fort Myers, Fla., where she won a National Edward R. Murrow Award.