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  • Ryan Wittler

Citizens Will Enforce Texas’s Scary New Abortion Law

Austin American-Statesman

Under a provision of a bill that bans abortion after a doctor detects a fetal heartbeat, citizens will be allowed to sue clinics, doctors, and just about anyone else helping a woman get an abortion after six weeks, about the time when a heartbeat is detectable. Why it's alarming: Ordinarily, laws are enforced by government officials, and if a person wants to challenge the constitutionality of a law, they would sue whichever government official is tasked with enforcement. For example, the “Wade” in Roe v. Wade is Henry Wade, who was the district attorney of Dallas county at the time. Perversely, the law in Texas literally prohibits officials from enforcing it. Instead taking the opposite approach and allowing citizens -- including those from outside the state -- to sue anyone who violates the law, awarding the person at least $10,000 per illegal abortion performed, if the suit is successful. Constitutional law scholars who spoke with The New York Times say the provision is “completely inverting the legal system,” and intentionally makes it harder for challengers of the law to know who to sue. In April, over 370 Texas lawyers wrote an open letter calling the provision an “unprecedented abuse of civil litigation” that could “have a destabilizing impact on the state’s legal infrastructure.” The law is set to take effect in September. Smart money says OAN debuts "Dog the Abortion Hunter" by October.

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