Editorial Excerpts, December 2021
Published: December 13, 2021
Texas’ newest abortion law allows any private citizen to sue an abortion provider or any other person, including a driver, who helps a woman obtain an abortion. If successful, they can collect a bounty.
It’s a blatantly unconstitutional law, upending decades of precedent. The law bans abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy—before most women even know they are pregnant. There are no exceptions for rape or incest. The Supreme Court erred in allowing it to take effect and should quickly overturn it.
SB 8 has created an unprecedented vigilante system that provides incentives for anyone to sue abortion providers, who then must defend themselves in court at enormous cost. The chilling effects aren’t hypothetical. It’s virtually impossible for a woman to have a legal abortion in Texas.
U.S. Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar called the statute “unprecedented, extraordinary, and extraordinarily dangerous for our constitutional structure.”
Prelogar explained the law was designed to “thwart the supremacy of federal law in open defiance of our constitutional structure. …”
As the Department of Justice argued, under such a structure, no constitutional right is safe.
The Supreme Court should never have allowed this law to take effect. While the line of questioning from a majority of justices suggests the Texas law will be overturned, the fate of abortion rights is still precarious.
–San Antonio Express-News, November 9, 2021
Texas officials essentially and unconstitutionally banned abortion by way of a bizarre state law, and it sounds like the Supreme Court isn’t buying into the state’s scheme.
On Monday, justices heard nearly three hours of oral arguments in two cases brought by the U.S. Department of Justice and by a group of abortion providers challenging the Texas law. The state has banned abortion at six weeks of gestation—but the law is enforced only by private citizen lawsuits. This diabolical tactic is designed to render federal courts powerless to block the law.
Under the law, known as Senate Bill 8, an individual who helps a woman obtain an abortion—the doctor, the nurse, the ride share driver who took her to the clinic—can be sued in court by any Tom, Dick or Harry. If the person who gets sued loses, he or she pays legal fees for the other side. And win or lose, that person can be sued again and again by someone else for the exact same instance of helping a woman get an abortion. The law, in effect since Sept. 1, has effectively halted abortions in the state.
The most disturbing thing about the cases against Texas and another case concerning a Mississippi abortion restriction—which the court will hear next month—is just how precarious the situation is for abortion rights in the U.S. The Supreme Court guaranteed women the right to an abortion in its landmark Roe vs. Wade decision. Nearly 50 years after that decision, abortion rights advocates are back at the Supreme Court still fighting for it. A decade ago that would have been inconceivable.
The Supreme Court should make this decision quickly. … It’s past time to restore to Texas women their right to a safe and legal abortion.
–Los Angeles Times, November 2, 2021