Texas Abortion Ban Sadistic, Psychopathic, Dumb As Hell
Welcome to Gilead.
Two days ago, because this is the Bad Place, a Texas law banning basically all abortion and deputizing abortion bounty hunters went into effect.
I am not exaggerating when I say SB 8 is the most batshit, psychopathic, sexist law I have ever seen actually take effect. And I used to work at the ACLU of West Virginia — I have seen a lot of shit!
All abortions after six weeks — or two weeks after the first missed period, if you are completely regular with your periods — are now illegal in Texas. And, just in case destroying people's lives wasn't enough, anyone can sue anyone who may have possibly thought about helping someone get an abortion. (Really, you can be sued for intending to abet an abortion that does not take place.) And, like SER and Robyn already told you, this week, the Supreme Court essentially overturned Roe v. Wade in secret. First, by failing to act. Then, by acting in the worst way possible.
I'm not sure if "misogyfascist" is an actual term, but I've decided to roll with it.
It's all bad.
Earlier parts of SB 8 get into the whole "heartbeat" thing. But, for the purposes of this post, here's the most relevant section:
Sec. 171.208. CIVIL LIABILITY FOR VIOLATION OR AIDING OR ABETTING VIOLATION.
(a) Any person, other than an officer or employee of a state or local governmental entity in this state, may bring a civil action against any person who:
(1) performs or induces an abortion in violation of this subchapter;
(2) knowingly engages in conduct that aids or abets the performance or inducement of an abortion, including paying for or reimbursing the costs of an abortion through insurance or otherwise, if the abortion is performed or induced in violation of this subchapter, regardless of whether the person knew or should have known that the abortion would be performed or induced in violation of this subchapter; or
(3) intends to engage in the conduct described by Subdivision (1) or (2).
Let's get something straight: There is no part of this law that isn't sadistic, psychopathic, and dumb as hell. And absolutely none of it would be acceptable under any circumstances. But what it actually does is so much worse than it even sounds, if you read most of the press coverage of SB 8.
Take a look at (3) right there. Not only is actually having an abortion or helping someone have an abortion illegal; it's also illegal to even consider having an abortion or helping someone get one.
So not only does this law allow any random-ass piece of shit to file a lawsuit against any person with a uterus accusing them of having an "illegal" abortion. And not only does it also allow those psychopaths to accuse any doctor of performing an "illegal" abortion. It also allows them to sue literally anyone they think might have ever considered having an abortion, or might have considered helping someone have an abortion.
So under what is now CURRENT, EXISTING TEXAS LAW, abortion bounty hunting can be brought by, for example:
- Abusive men who claim their partner/ex wanted to have an abortion, even if they didn't go through with it.
- Rapists who feel like banding together to sue each other's victims and share the bounties.
- Any fucking random sadist with nothing better to do.
- Abortion funds, their employees, and the people who donate to them.
- A mom who helps her teenager get a legal abortion in another state.
- Uber/Lyft drivers who may have transported pregnant people.
- Alllllll the OB-GYNs.
- People who actually care about women and pregnant people.
- Literally anyone with a uterus.
It's also fucking absurd.
In addition to all of the terrible things this law allows, it is also written so poorly as to give us some amazing possibilities, that certainly must have been unintended consequences.
With that part in section 3, allowing people to target anyone who "intends to engage" in "aiding or abetting" an abortion, I can make a good-faith legal argument that any man who has even thought about having heterosexual sex, much less had heterosexual sex, or even — gasp! — unprotected heterosexual sex, has intended to engage in aiding and abetting abortion.
Some of the intended consequences are also great. The abortion bounty hunter can sue whomever he wants, in any county in the (very large) state, and the defendant isn't allowed to move it to a closer venue. And even defendants who win because they had absolutely nothing to do with "aiding and abetting" an abortion can't recover their costs and attorney's fees.
So, one may wonder, what is stopping people from clogging Texas's court system with cases alleging every legislator who voted for this abomination has intended to aid and abet an abortion? In the furthest county from where they live? And forcing them to pay for attorneys to defend the case?
Can we fucking do anything about this?
Yes! The real question is whether Democrats actually will do anything.
The thing is, there actually are a whole bunch of things Democrats could do. But the problem is, most of these potential solutions require thinking outside the box. And if there's one thing the powers that be in the Democratic Party love, it's archaic norms.
Decades ago, Republicans and Democrats were in a basement, sitting at a table, playing chess. Then, the Republicans doused the basement in gasoline and set it on fire. But the Democrats are still sitting at the table, yelling about the rules of chess.
Like Elie Mystal writes over at The Nation, "The only question is how far Democrats are willing to go to defend women's rights." And, frankly, you can sing all the platitudes you want — I'll believe it when I see it.
There have been a lot of great press releases about protecting abortion rights this week. And that's nice. I appreciate words of support, I do. But, unless you are on the front lines doing absolutely everything you can to stop this, you can shove your press releases up your ass.
Want a few free ideas, Democratic leadership? Here you go!
- Pass Women's Health Protection Act, codifying Roe, fucking yesterday.
- Expand the goddamn motherfucking Court and our circuit courts before our democracy crumbles as we all sit here watching.
- As Mystal suggests, use the doctrine of qualified immunity for good, for once. Make abortion providers federal officials — like vaccine distribution, but for abortion. They will have qualified immunity for all of their official actions.
- Make DC and Puerto Rico states. (Assuming PR wants to be a state, that is. I certainly wouldn't blame Puerto Ricans giving that one a hard pass.)
For her part, Nancy Pelosi announced yesterday that she would be bringing the Women's Health Protection Act up for a vote when Congress returns. Awesome! But Congress is still chillin' until the end of the month. Shame on my fucking Congress for going on a two-month vacation without lifting a finger to stop this travesty, when we all knew it was coming
Yesterday, Biden, too, released a great statement. Noting that the Supreme Court had "unleash[ed] unconstitutional chaos and empower[ed] self-anointed enforcers to have devastating impacts" on people's lives, Biden directed the White House Counsel's Office and Gender Policy Council "to launch a whole-of-government effort" to respond to this decision. He asked the offices to "look specifically to the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Justice to see what steps the Federal Government can take to ensure that women in Texas have access to safe and legal abortions as protected by Roe, and what legal tools we have to insulate women and providers from the impact of Texas' bizarre scheme of outsourced enforcement to private parties."
Good. Great! But, again, I'll believe there is real action coming just as soon as it happens.
What's happening in Texas right now is already destroying lives, we have known since May that this was coming, and my federal government did absolutely nothing to stop it.
I have nothing good to say about any of this.
Unless we're counting things like "Maybe SCOTUS will wait a few years before going full fetal personhood and banning all abortion nationwide?" and "Rich people will always be able to get abortions" as "good" now, I got nothin'.
The Onion continues to be depressingly prescient, with a new post titled "New Texas Law Allows Private Citizens To Hold Pregnant Women Hostage Until Birth." And don't kid yourselves: That shit is coming next.
While our political and court systems continue to fail us, there are some amazing people in Texas fighting the good fight on the ground. Organizations like RAICES, the Texas Equal Access Fund, Frontera Fund, Jane's Due Process, and Fund Texas Choice are still working — and, in some cases, straight-up saying that laws like this one are "meant to be broken."
Now is a great time to donate to or volunteer with an organization helping people in Texas access the abortion care they need.
I have donated to a few Texas orgs and abortion funds this week. A few people have asked if I'm afraid of being sued. And you know what I have to say to that?
Bring. It. On.
Follow Jamie on Twitter, she has a lot more to say about abortion rights and misogyfascists.