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To: Mark Kelly, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Connor Lamb, Kamala Harris, Joe Biden, ACLU, Planned Parenthood
Texas Against Women’s Rights
The Texas law in regards to abortion creates a chilling precedent that curtails all other precedents in regards to abortion rights within the United States of America. In the words of Justice Sotomayor, May 2021, the Texas legislature enacted SB8 (the act). The act, which took effect statewide at midnight on 1 September, makes it unlawful for physicians to perform abortions if they either detect cardiac activity in an embryo or fail to perform a test to detect such activity. This equates to a near-categorical ban on abortions beginning six weeks after a woman’s last menstrual period, before many women realize they are pregnant, and months before fetal viability. According to the applicants, who are abortion providers and advocates in Texas, the act immediately prohibits care for at least 85% of Texas abortion patients and will force many abortion clinics to close.
The act is clearly unconstitutional under existing precedents. See, e.g., June Medical Servs LLC v Russo, 591 US ___, ___ (2020) (ROBERTS, C J, concurring in judgment) (slip op, at 5) (explaining that “the state may not impose an undue burden on the woman’s ability to obtain an abortion” of a “nonviable fetus” (citing Roe v Wade, 410 US 113 (1973), and Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pa v Casey, 505 US 833 (1992); internal quotation marks omitted)). The respondents do not even try to argue otherwise. Nor could they: no federal appellate court has upheld such a comprehensive prohibition on abortions before viability under current law.
The Texas legislature was well aware of this binding precedent. To circumvent it, the legislature took the extraordinary step of enlisting private citizens to do what the state could not. The act authorizes any private citizen to file a lawsuit against any person who provides an abortion in violation of the act, “aids or abets” such an abortion (including by paying for it) regardless of whether they know the abortion is prohibited under the act, or even intends to engage in such conduct. Courts are required to enjoin the defendant from engaging in these actions in the future and to award the private-citizen plaintiff at least $10,000 in “statutory damages” for each forbidden abortion performed or aided by the defendant. In effect, the Texas legislature has deputized the state’s citizens as bounty hunters, offering them cash prizes for civilly prosecuting their neighbors’ medical procedures.
The legislature fashioned this scheme because federal constitutional challenges to state laws ordinarily are brought against state officers who are in charge of enforcing. By prohibiting state officers from enforcing the act directly and relying instead on citizen bounty hunters, the legislature sought to make it more complicated for federal courts to enjoin the act on a statewide basis.
Taken together, the act is a breathtaking act of defiance – of the constitution, of this court’s precedents, and of the rights of women seeking abortions throughout Texas. But over six weeks after the applicants filed suit to prevent the act from taking effect, a fifth circuit panel abruptly stayed all proceedings before the district court and vacated a preliminary injunction hearing that was scheduled to begin on Monday. The applicants requested emergency relief from this court, but the court said nothing. The act took effect at midnight last night.
This law arbitrarily removes the rights of women as explained in Roe v Wade and several other cases that have provided precedence in abortion rights within the United States for the past 40 years.
I call on you, our government leaders…House members, Senators, Vice President, and President to act. Our constitutional rights are being stripped away in the state of Texas. With allowing this barbaric law to be passed, other states will follow suit, and women will once again be second rate citizens within the Democratic Republic of these United States.
I call on our citizens, men and women to unite. Meet at the steps of the Supreme Court and protest their decision on the Texas abortion law.
Why is this important?
We need to protect the rights of women that has been fought and won by those women before us. Our constitutional rights are being torn away from us with forced pregnancy and birth. Women have a right to choose. Roe v Wade gave us that right.