The full meaning of Senate Bill 8 and how it would impact anyone who can become pregnant shocked people across the state. The legislature had, in effect, declared dead in Texas the 1973 Supreme Court ruling known as the Roe decision, which legalized abortion in the U.S.
When the full impact of SB8 was known around the state, desperate cries for help reached clinics, both in person and on the phone. Pro-choice hotlines were clogged with calls by people asking what they should do.
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Demonstrations were held at the Capitol in Austin, Texas, and in Washington, D.C., outside the Supreme Court. Protesters’ T-shirts were emblazoned with “Bans off our bodies.” Donations from around the country have poured into the coffers of pro-choice organizations and funding groups that assist people with expenses for abortions, travel and housing. Local and national protests are in the works.
When the misnamed “Right to Life” organization set up an anonymous tip hotline for anti-abortion forces to report anyone who allegedly violated the law, it was immediately sabotaged by pro-choice tech experts, and thousands of sympathizers called in fake reports.
$10,000 prize for bounty hunters
Another aspect of this outrageous law incentivizes anti-abortion groups and individuals to sue anyone who “aids or abets” a pregnant person, even a 13-year-old rape victim, in obtaining an abortion after the imposed time limit.
Such reactionary “bounty hunters” could win $10,000 for each successful lawsuit against clinic operators, doctors, nurses, midwives, receptionists, counselors, pro-choice donor organizations or individuals — even Uber and Lyft drivers who transported a pregnant person to a clinic. Executives at those companies have pledged to pay any penalties incurred by their drivers.
This bonanza would not only encourage neighbors to spy on neighbors, but it encourages anti-abortion extremists to file endless lawsuits in their quest to bankrupt reproductive health centers, their operators and staff. These vigilantes aim to close all bans off our bodies clinics, punish pro-choice organizations, clinic operators and medical professionals, and end legal abortions altogether.
By deliberately constructing the law in this way, the state and its “executive employees” have exempted themselves from responsibility for violating people’s constitutional rights, and they can’t be sued. With SB 8, Texas politicians are “deputizing” individuals to enforce the law. They are encouraging vigilante action by anyone angry about progressive “social” or “cultural” issues.
Planned Parenthood immediately went to court to get a temporary injunction to protect its staff members from legal liability and punitive monetary fines that could result from this SB8 vigilantism.
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