In March, a man in Texas sued three women he accused of helping his ex-wife terminate her pregnancy, the first lawsuit of its kind after the state effectively outlawed most abortions and the US Supreme Court revoked a constitutional right to abortion care.
Marcus Silva’s wrongful death lawsuit in Galveston alleges that his ex-wife’s friends helped her secure abortion drugs and “conceal the pregnancy and murder” of his “unborn child.”
On 1 May, two of those women – Jackie Noyola and Amy Carpenter – filed a countersuit of their own, claiming that Mr Silva found the abortion drugs and text messages in which they discussed plans to help his ex-wife before her abortion.
Mr Silva – described in the countersuit as a “serial emotional abuser” who “spent years verbally attacking” his then-wife while “seeking to manipulate and control” her – did not file the suit in the interest of “protecting life,” according to the women.
He did it, they allege, to control her.
Mr Silva, notably, did not sue the women under the “aiding and abetting” provision of the state’s anti-abortion law, which allows for any private citizen to sue anyone who “aids or abets” in an abortion after about six weeks of pregnancy.
Instead, he filed the $1m lawsuit under a separate wrongful death statute, arguing that his ex-wife’s abortion is murder.
The legal team supporting his case even includes the former Texas solicitor general and architect of the state’s anti-abortion laws, Jonathan Mitchell, and Briscoe Cain, an anti-abortion Republican state lawmaker who said one of his top legislative priorities is prosecuting all abortion crimes.
Mr Silva also is supported by attorneys for the Thomas More Society, an influential national right-wing legal firm that supports anti-abortion causes, efforts to oppose same-sex marriage, and attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election.
The Independent has requested comment from representatives for Mr Silva.
The countersuit contains what appears to be a screenshot of a police report that Mr Silva allegedly made to the League City Police Department on 17 July, 2022, a few months after his ex-wife filed for divorce. The police report claims that he found a pill labeled “MF” in his ex-wife’s purse nearly one week earlier.
He identified the pill as mifepristone, a widely used drug used for medication abortion, by far the most common form of abortion care in the US.
He threatened to use the screenshots and evidence against her if she did not “give him my ‘mind body and soul’ until the end of the divorce, which he’s going to drag out,” his ex-wife allegedly wrote in text messages to the two women, according to court documents. The divorce was finalized earlier this year.
“Rather than talking with [his ex-wife] about what he found or disposing of the pill, Silva took photos of the texts and surreptitiously put the pill back,” according to the women’s complaint.
“He wasn’t interested in stopping her from terminating a possible pregnancy. Instead, he wanted to obtain evidence he could use against her if she refused to stay under his control, which is precisely what he tried to do,” the countersuit claims.
Texas law does not allow criminal or civil charges against abortion patients; Mr Silva’s ex-wife is not a party to the lawsuit.
Ms Noyola and Ms Carpenter are accusing Mr Silva of violating their right to privacy and the Texas Harmful Access by Computer Act, which makes it a crime to access a computer without the owner’s consent.
“The hypocrisy of Silva seeking more than a million dollars in damages is as shocking as it is shameful,” the filing says. “It is a craven misuse and abuse of the judicial system to facilitate his ongoing harassment and abuse of his ex-wife.”
A hearing is set for 8 June.
Within the year after the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v Wade, more than a dozen states have effectively outlawed abortion care for most pregnancies, and more than a dozen others have imposed restrictions on abortion drugs.
In April, a ruling from a federal judge in Texas revoked the federal government’s approval of mifepristone, which was first approved by the US Food and Drug Administration more than 20 years ago.
The Supreme Court reversed the decision, however, and preserved access to the drug while a legal challenge mounted by a group of anti-abortion activists continues to play out in a federal appeals court. That case will be argued before a three-judge panel on 17 May.