"It's completely transforming the legal system," Stephen Vladeck, professor of constitutional law at the University of Texas at Austin, told the Times. “It is said that the state will not be the one to enforce this law. Your neighbors are. "
So, not only can ordinary citizens sue anyone who has an abortion performed, but they don't have to be in touch with them, they just need to confirm that the reported abortion was successfully performed. Anyone involved in obtaining an abortion, whether it be a family member, rape crisis counselor, or other health care professional, could be open to lawsuits because of the broad language of the bill.
"Every citizen is now a private attorney general," said Josh Blackman, professor of constitutional law at the South Texas College of Law Houston. "You can indiscriminately sue people against abortion tomorrow."
Experts noted that the law also affects privacy and other concerns, including "abuse of civil process".
“If the barista at Starbucks talks to you about your abortion and it was done after six weeks, that barista has the right to sue the clinic where you performed the abortion and any other person who helped you, such as Uber -Driver who performed the abortion there, ”said Melissa Murray, a law professor at New York University.
While other states allow citizens to sue to enforce laws on their own, these laws focus on issues like consumer protection and not support state enforcement instead. In addition, by offering a monetary incentive to its citizens, Texas is bribing its citizens to harm the lives of others.
According to The Texas Grandstand, advocates of the law hoped to circumvent legal challenges, including abortion restrictions, in court. Without officials to enforce the law, abortion providers will not be able to sue officials related to the restriction laws.
"It's a very unique law and it's a very clever law," Blackman said. “Planned Parenthood can't go to court and sue Attorney General [Ken] Paxton like they normally would for having no role in enforcing the law. They basically have to sit and wait until they are sued. "
Before the new legislation, abortions after 20 weeks were banned, with exceptions for certain cases. The new law prohibits abortions after a fetal heartbeat has been detected and includes cases where a woman has become pregnant as a result of rape or incest. The only exception are medical emergencies. According to state statistics, more than 56,600 abortions were performed on Texas residents in 2019 – most of them in the first trimester, The Texas Tribune reported.
According to the Times, the law is hard to challenge before it goes into effect on September 1 as it's difficult to narrow down who to sue to block it.
Texas may be the first to pass a law that puts abortion law enforcement straight into the hands of its citizens, but it probably won't be the last. As Pennsylvania and other states follow suit in anti-election laws, it is expected that other GOP populated states will try to promote their restrictive policies under the guise of "pro-life" including bribes.
Using the pandemic as a tool, Republican officials have tried to ban abortions, claiming it is an unnecessary process that could wait while COVID-19 cases pile up – they are ready to do whatever it takes to get their way. Reproductive rights are basic human rights. Nobody should be forced or compelled to make a decision that may not be what they want for their own body and health.
Policies banning or restricting abortions will not reduce abortions, as some GOP officials believe. Instead, they limit a woman's right to physical autonomy and Increase the number of unsafe Abortions and maternal health problems that occur.