OPINION: Why the Texas Pro-life Bill Is Deeply Flawed
The sign of a protestor outside of the Texas Capital said, “Abortion is sacred.” She was protesting a new Texas abortion law, the strictest in the country, that limits the procedure to as early as six weeks. A step towards banning the murder of a baby inside the womb gives optimism and drive to the pro-life movement, but the bill is far from perfect.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law a ban on abortions after a heartbeat could be detected from an ultrasound, normally around the six week mark of a pregnancy. Rather than the government enforcing the measure, private citizens are encouraged to sue anyone who assists in providing an abortion. They can be awarded $10,000 and get legal fees covered in the case of a court win.
At first glance, the measure seems odd — having random citizens suing abortion doctors — but the bill was intended to be difficult to block in court. Pro-choice activists do not have anyone to sue to go on the legal offensive. They cannot sue the government because the government is not enforcing the rule, and they cannot proactively sue private citizens who have done nothing.
The law, known as Senate Bill 8, has taken much criticism for being the narrowest abortion restriction in the country and using random citizens to sue abortion providers.
One doctor is already facing the consequences of the new law. Dr. Alan Braid published an op-ed in the Washington Post saying he protested the new law by performing an abortion after six weeks. He is being sued by two residents from Arkansas and Illinois.
Even an Uber driver who takes a woman to an abortion clinic could be included in a lawsuit. The measure has precariously far-reaching effects.
Unfortunately, Senate Bill 8 is inherently flawed. It sets the precedent to legally allow uninvolved citizens to sue fellow Americans. That precedent could be applied in future gun laws, COVID-19 mandates and other cultural issues.
Why is someone from Illinois suing a person they have never met nor been damaged by in Texas? America should not be a place of attorney vigilantes.
During the early stage of the COVID-19 pandemic, Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti rewarded people for reporting violators. “Snitches get rewards,” Garcetti said. “We want to thank you for turning folks in.” The practice set by this protocol was highly criticized as being outrageous and overreaching. Similarly, this new law calls upon a similar strategy for targeting abortion providers.
Although Senate Bill 8 has poor application, the law is well intentioned.
Abortion stops a beating heart and terminates a unique set of DNA code. In other terms, it ends life. Roe v. Wade has made abortion legal since 1973, killing more than 62 million unborn babies in the process. This Texas law seeks to change the trajectory of our country’s amoral precedent.
The Supreme Court ruled to permit abortions by claiming reproductive privacy. The Texas legislature ruled to restrict abortions by claiming the “right to life.” Texas is fighting poor legal precedent with more poor legal precedent.
The Texas law does provide a sign of hope for pro-life advocates. Other bills, such as one in Mississippi that would restrict abortion before viability at 15 weeks, are on the docket to be heard by the Supreme Court on December 1. The Mississippi law would suspend or revoke medical licenses to abortion providers outside the 15-week parameter, along with other possible penalties.
The Mississippi bill should be leading the charge against abortion instead of the Texas bill. Senate Bill 8 is well intentioned but internally flawed. The animalistic nature of abortion does not permit sloppy legislation.
The fight to end abortion may happen, but it must not occur the same way it was created — through a legal mess.
Browder is an opinion writer.