The state of Texas is really out here becoming the boss of all bosses when it comes to awful and dangerous legislation pushed in the name of conservatism. It’s bad enough the state’s officials are passing white fragility laws that control how racism is taught as well as a law allowing Texans to carry handguns without a license or training, but now we’re talking about legislation that generally puts the enforcement of anti-abortion laws in the hands of citizens, not the government.
According to the New York Times, the new law would allow everyday
idiots Texans to sue abortion clinics, doctors or anyone else who aids someone in terminating a pregnancy, even if the plaintiff in the suit has no connection to the abortion or anyone involved.
From the Times:
The provision passed the State Legislature this spring as part of a bill that bans abortion after a doctor detects a fetal heartbeat, usually at about six weeks of pregnancy. Many states have passed such bans, but the law in Texas is different.
Ordinarily, enforcement would be up to government officials, and if clinics wanted to challenge the law’s constitutionality, they would sue those officials in making their case. But the law in Texas prohibits officials from enforcing it. Instead, it takes the opposite approach, effectively deputizing ordinary citizens — including from outside Texas — to sue clinics and others who violate the law. It awards them at least $10,000 per illegal abortion if they are successful.
Let me see if I have this right: Texans and people who are *checks notes* not residents of Texas would not only be allowed to sue abortion providers but they’re basically given the incentive to do it? For $10,000, this legislation is basically begging a bunch of right-wing yokels to go sniffing around abortion clinics and anyone they suspect of being a current or former carrier of an unwanted pregnancy in order to enforce their views on strangers and receive a big payday while doing it.
“If the barista at Starbucks overhears you talking about your abortion, and it was performed after six weeks, that barista is authorized to sue the clinic where you obtained the abortion and to sue any other person who helped you, like the Uber driver who took you there,” Melissa Murray, a law professor at New York University, told the Times.
Some legal experts believe this law is meant to give anti-abortion advocates an advantage in court that they don’t have currently.
More from the Post:
The result is a law that is extremely difficult to challenge before it takes effect on Sept. 1 because it is hard to know whom to sue to block it, and lawyers for clinics are now wrestling with what to do about it. Six-week bans in other states have all been blocked as they make their way through the court system.
The most common place for clinics to challenge abortion restrictions in Texas has been federal court, where they have won more often than at the state level. Supporters of the new law say it is an attempt to argue abortion cases in the courts of the state where they originated — Texas — without anti-abortion measures immediately being suspended by a federal judge, as often happens.
And now we see what this is really all about.
Federal law protects the right to an abortion for up until 23 or 24 weeks of pregnancy, or “the point at which a fetus can sustain life outside the womb,” the Times reports. Since Texas law cuts that window down to one-fourth of the allotted time, it seems this ridiculous-ass provision is meant to ensure that conservatives of any state get more say in what a woman does with her own body than the so-called “big government,” which would be more likely to rule that it’s nobody else’s damn business what decision a pregnant woman makes.
Stephen Vladeck, a constitutional law professor at the University of Texas at Austin, perhaps said it best.
“It’s completely inverting the legal system,” Vladeck told the Times. “It says the state is not going to be the one to enforce this law. Your neighbors are.”