New Texas Law Offers $10,000 Bounty For Turning In Anyone Aiding With An Abortion After 6 Weeks

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texas state house legislation anti abortion

During the spring, Texas passed a law banning abortions after six weeks of pregnancy — claiming that the "fetal heartbeat" can be detected around this time.

States around the country have been passing abortion laws similar to the one Texas passed, but things are about to change even more after a provision was made.

Now, Texas legislators are in support of vigilante injustice.

The new law, which will take effect on September 1, 2021, states that citizens will now be able to sue clinics and individuals who take part in abortions after six weeks, can also claim a $10,000 "reward" — more like a bounty — and will be reimbursed for lawyer and court fees. 

Stephen Vladeck, a constitutional law professor at the University of Texas at Austin, said, “It’s completely inverting the legal system. It says the state is not going to be the one to enforce this law. Your neighbors are.”

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People don’t even need to be in-state to sue clinics or individuals.

Anyone can sue you, the clinic where you received the procedure, the Uber driver who drove you to the clinic, and whoever else was involved in helping you get the health care you needed.

The timely abortion bans that have tried to make it through court systems in the past have been blocked successfully, but this new law proves much harder to challenge because no one knows who to sue in order to block it.

Planned Parenthood filed a federal lawsuit on July 13 against Texas courts in an attempt to fight the private enforcement provision in Senate Bill 8 — the bill that targets abortion.

The law violates Texans’ constitutional right to privacy and liberty as established by Roe v. Wade, and the right to free speech and equal protection for abortion providers, the lawsuit claims.

“We’ve never seen a law like this,” said Marc Hearron, lead attorney with Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR), during a press call. “This is what Texas politicians wanted when they passed this law: to turn anti-abortion extremists into vigilantes with the power to police clinics, staff, and their patient support systems. We have already seen the threats begin.”

The plaintiffs have no choice but to sue the judges, the courts, and whoever else may be at the head of enforcement for this law, since the government is not the one enforcing the ban.

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“We had to devise a unique strategy to fight this subversive law,” Nancy Northup, president and chief executive of the CRR, said. “We will pursue every legal avenue we can to block this pernicious law.”

Since citizens are the ones bringing cases to the courts, judges have the final say in whether or not they want to challenge the oppressive, draconian law.

In the last decade, there has been a noticeable rise in the number of anti-abortion wins among state legislatures, and in the 2021 legislative season, a record was set for the most abortion restrictions signed in a single year in the United States, according to the Guttmacher Institute, which tracks abortion statistics and supports abortion rights.

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Professor Vladeck also worries that this may set a legal precedent for future laws and law-making.

“Behind those procedural questions is a fairly fundamental question about whether states really can dramatically infringe constitutional rights and leave the victims without a remedy,” he said. “If Texas can do this for abortion, then tomorrow California can do it for guns.”

Many women do not know they are pregnant before six weeks.

According to a joint statement from groups that support abortion rights, about 85 percent of women who obtain abortions in Texas do so after six weeks of pregnancy.

Federal law protects the abortion of pregnancies until a fetus can sustain life outside the womb, which is about 23 or 24 weeks. But this law, which will have the shortest protection period of all abortion lawsuits, would change that.

The result of the latest lawsuit from Planned Parenthood has yet to be seen, but lawyers and pro-choice advocates are fighting tooth and nail to block this law from going into effect on September 1.

If it were to pass, it would spell trouble for clinics and women who need the procedure.

Not only that, it would simply be unconstitutional against Roe v. Wade, and outright absurd of Texas legislators for setting a bounty on mothers.

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Isaac Serna-Diez is a writer who focuses on entertainment and news, social justice and relationships.