By Rachel Puryear
The State of Texas recently passed an extremely restrictive anti-reproductive-health-care law. This Texas abortion law prohibits abortion after six weeks (before most women know that they are pregnant).
Furthermore, this law allows private citizens – anywhere in the nation – to sue someone for helping someone else obtain an abortion (or so the plaintiff claims). Such opportunistic plaintiffs can be awarded at least $10,000.00 if they win these lawsuits for snitching on people they do not know, and being hideously intrusive into sensitive personal and medical affairs.
Note: Outcomes of lawsuits can be quite random. Even if a judge or jury does get it right – which is a big “if” – defending a lawsuit still costs a lot of money and time.
What You Can Do to Help Women in Texas Needing Reproductive Care:
Americans who believe in choice, health care, equality, and freedom are not backing down in the face of this horrific new law. Many people and organizations are coming together to fight it, and to help people affected by it – and they need help and support from anyone who can lend them a hand.
Here is a link to a list of organizations which are helping to fight this law, and to protect those in need. You can help support these excellent organizations provide health care, logistics, legal services, as well as assistance geared towards those most vulnerable. Other orgs not on the above list, but which are also worth supporting, include Emily’s List, NARAL, The Satanic Temple, and the national Planned Parenthood division (the Texas division is already included in the above list).
Need a rideshare? Consider ordering one from Lyft – they have issued a statement indicating that they will pay the legal fees of anyone sued under the Texas abortion law, such as a driver sued for driving a passenger to a health care center.
*Update* Uber has also stated that they will do the same thing as Lyft!
How the Texas Abortion Law Could Give Backers More Than They Bargained For:
In my experience of ten years as a former lawyer, I will say two things that I have observed:
(1) Most lawsuits filed in this nation have at least some underlying merit, even if they are eventually defeated. Claims that we are an out-of-control, lawsuit-happy society abound; but these claims are more myth than reality. Such myths get fanned by powerful interests, however; and the consequences of these myths make it harder for regular/not-rich people to pursue justice, and to access much-needed legal counsel.
Furthermore, there are many highly respectable legal nonprofits out there, which are serving very underserved populations (and causes) that are in desperate need of legal assistance. The lawyers who work for these nonprofits, as well as many government lawyers and private practitioners; do essential work for people and causes who really need it, and work incredibly hard at a thankless job.
Ironically, the lawyers who actually do good for society are usually the ones who who take a lot of abuse from the legal establishment. They are typically underpaid, some to the extent that they struggle frequently. They bear the brunt of public anti-lawyer sentiment in the form of a lack of essential funding for the work they do, and they often ultimately get burnt out and leave the profession.
(2) With #1 being clearly said: There is also a small but destructive number of people out there who exploit the legal system ruthlessly. This can be done either in the form of lobbying (for people and groups who can afford it); or in the form of skillful bad-faith lawsuits designed to shake people down, rather than pursue justice. The lawyers who help people do these things tend to get away with a lot from the legal establishment, and often make a lot of money with their dirty deeds. Some of these people form so-called “nonprofits”, which are so by letter, but not so in spirit; and are in fact money-grabbing schemes, rather than a true legal help lifeline.
Interestingly, those who ideologically support the Texas abortion law tend to likely be the same ones who like to complain that our society is too litigious. Well, some of them might be getting more than they bargained for with this new law.
In my legal experience; the typical profile of a person most likely to be on the wrong end of a shakedown lawsuit is someone who has been relatively successful financially, but also has a relatively low level of education – particularly, they have a low level of legal sophistication.
This same demographic happens to be similar to the profile of someone likely to be politically conservative, and to vote for Republican candidates, and to support Trump-like candidates (remember that the Texas abortion law is the product of conservative, Trump-like Republicans, although this particular issue may or may not necessarily be the main motivator for the above-referenced demographic to support these candidates).
There will be people in Texas, and throughout the nation, who will look to the Texas abortion law as a gold mine for shakedown lawsuits. This is a matter aside from the general repulsive nature of this law, and separate from anyone’s views about abortion. Shakedown artists will see this law as an easy way to file a frivolous lawsuit to get money out of a defendant, or at least some kind of settlement.
In short, the people who actually supported this abortion law, and voted for the people behind this abortion law; could accordingly find themselves being some of its financial targets. If that’s the case, then talk about a reckoning!
A Word of Caution For Those Who Actually Do Provide Reproductive Services in Texas, or Might Be Perceived as Doing Such:
People who own property in Texas, and foresee the possibility of being sued later under this law because they actually do help provide reproductive services, or might be perceived as doing so; might want to consider forms of asset protection. Check your various insurance policies, and see if they cover you for this kind of lawsuit.
What this Law Won’t Do:
In case you were wondering: No, this bill does not do any of the following things; despite the fact that each of these following things, unlike anti-abortion laws, would actually prevent abortions and help people with heartbeats:
- Get more people vaccinated, and consistently wearing masks in public. (Note: Pregnant women and fetuses are at especially high risk from Covid.)
- Protect people of color from police brutality.
- Lift anyone out of poverty.
- Protect anyone from violence.
- Ensure affordable health care for people with preexisting conditions.
- Address dangerous climate change and environmental pollution.
- Decrease high maternal mortality rates for black mothers (this demographic is also at particularly high risk where abortion and family planning care is restricted).
- Stop violence against reproductive health care practitioners.
- Keep guns away from violent people.
- Require fathers to take equal financial, physical, and emotional responsibility past the point where abortion is legal.
- Help sexual assault survivors cope with trauma, or address trauma of being monstrously forced to give birth to rapists’ babies.
- Provide services to unwanted children, including helping them find loving and supportive homes, and cope with trauma of being unwanted.
- Prevent unwanted pregnancies in the first place, including teaching about consent.
This Law Creates a Huge Problem for Miscarriage Sufferers
Alarmingly but not surprisingly, this law reflects a profoundly anti-scientific level of ignorance about the realities of miscarriage. A large number of conceptions result in miscarriages. When miscarriages occur relatively late in pregnancy (and this happens naturally), the patient may need a D&C – which is the same procedure also used in performing many abortions.
The deceased fetus might be too large to come out naturally without a D&C, and the mother will die of infection or possibly bleed to death if the fetus doesn’t come out – so time is of the essence.
This law does not clarify how health care providers are to care for patients suffering miscarriages without seriously risking becoming a victim of a lawsuit arising out of the Texas abortion law. And in a situation like this, there is no time to waste.
What Really Prevents Abortions (Hint: It’s Not Anti-Abortion Laws):
Did you know that there is a strong track record of pro-choice leaders overseeing periods of far fewer abortions under their tenure, compared with the numbers of abortions under anti-choice leadership? That’s because reducing abortions is not, and never was, about banning abortions or treating reproductive care providers and patients with cruelty and an ignorant disregard. The anti-choice side is not truly about preventing abortions – it’s about controlling women, and forcing a limited and rigid worldview on everyone else.
If you truly want to see fewer abortions, and fewer unwanted pregnancies, and if that’s your main priority; then support pro-choice leaders; and vigorously oppose anti-choice leaders, who actually tend to oversee periods with far greater numbers of abortions. Pro-choice leaders support birth control and family planning, and also assistance to needy families; the combination of which hugely reduces abortion rates.
Thank you, dear readers, for reading, following, and sharing. Here’s to your safely accessing affordable, effective health care of all kinds; and being safe and protected if you also help others do so.
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