SXSW Festival Could Be Hit By Boycott Due To New Texas Abortion Laws

SXSW Festival Could Be Hit By Boycott Due To New Texas Abortion Laws

As Texas introduces highly restrictive new abortion laws, the SXSW festival could be impacted by a boycott.

The state’s new abortion legislation has already been widely condemned. It bans abortions after six weeks, a serious concern given many people do not realise they are pregnant until weeks, or months, after that cutoff point.

As well as the potentially devastating consequences for the person seeking the abortion, the law also allows private citizens to sue anyone who “aids and abets” an individual securing an abortion. This includes driving them to the clinic.

The law rests on private citizens suing people for having abortions. Anyone who sues someone for having an abortion could receive up to $10,000 in damages.

Now, according to AdAge, industry leaders in the US are calling for boycotts of Texas-based events, including the SXSW festival.  The festival is a key part of the marketing industry’s calendar, featuring the tech, film and music sectors.

Lisa Braun Dubbels, who owns the Minneapolis-based Catalyst Publicity and Promotion Group tweeted, “if anyone has any experience/knowledge about pulling their PanelPicker from SXSW, lmk.”

“If people whose entire existence is based on self-promotion are willing to pull out of SXSW, ooof.”

Other women across the industries represented at SXSW have tweeted similar sentiments.

SXSC has yet to make any statements about the new bill, or about relocating.

A number of major companies have made public objections to the laws. Both Lyft and Uber have committed to paying the legal fees of their drivers if they are sued based on the new laws, particularly due to the “aid and abet” provision

Lyft’s statement read: “We want to be clear: Drivers are never responsible for monitoring where their riders go or why. Imagine being a driver and not knowing if you are breaking the law by giving someone a ride.”

“Similarly, riders never have to justify, or even share, where they are going and why. Imagine being a pregnant woman trying to get to a healthcare appointment and not knowing if your driver will cancel on you for fear of breaking a law. Both are completely unacceptable.”

Lyft’s CEO, Logan Green, tweeted that the company will donate US$1 million to Planned Parenthood “to ensure that transportation is never a barrier to healthcare access”. He encouraged other companies to follow suit.

Indeed, Uber’s CEO Dara Khosrowshahi quote tweeted Green’s statement, writing: “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. Thanks for the push.”

Both Bumble and Match Group (which owns Tinder) have committed to funding Texas-based employees who need to receive abortions interstate.

Should this corporate backlash against the laws gain further momentum, it could have a profound impact on events like SXSW – but more importantly, it could help the women in Texas that currently cannot access safe or legal abortions.

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