Last week, US District Judge Robert Pitman issued an injunction against a Texas law that bans abortions after roughly six weeks – before many women even know their pregnant – and that also allows citizen bounty hunters to file lawsuits against doctors or anyone else who helps a woman to get an abortion.
The judge said the state legislature “contrived an unprecedented and transparent statutory scheme” to ban abortions that was “flagrantly unconstitutional.”
He was correct…but the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals still lifted the injunction.
So the law is back in force, probably headed to the U.S. Supreme Court, and it’s open season again in Texas on abortion providers and anyone who assists a woman seeking the procedure.
Anti-abortion vigilantes can file lawsuits against doctors as well as individuals who “aid” and “abet” a woman seeking the procedure, and if successful, can collect $10,000 from any person who violates the law.
Some years back, that would have been me.
A long difficult ride to a clinic
The university I attended back East was located in a bucolic rural setting about three hours from any large city.
I had with me on campus an old Chevy Nova, which I used mostly to go back and forth to the part-time jobs I had to help with expenses.
One day, a female student I knew asked me if I’d be willing to drive her and a “client” to the city for a medical appointment.
The young woman was smart, attractive and much more worldly than I was. She volunteered at what she called the “women’s center.”
I agreed to give them a ride.
I thought it would be fun.
(Yes, I really was that naïve.)
On the ride the two women sat together in the backseat, which seemed odd to me. I turned the radio on as we were leaving campus and the woman I knew asked me to turn it off. By way of whispered conversation that I overheard and muffled sobs I figured out there had been what we’d refer to these days as a date rape, and the visit to the clinic in the city was for an abortion.
It was a decision the young woman clearly agonized over. One I couldn’t imagine anyone judging her for.
One I couldn’t imagine anyone making for her.
But legislators in states all across the country, including Arizona have tried, often adding cruelty to something already tragic.
Adding zealots and money grubbers
Add to that, now, the ability of zealots and money grubbers to intimidate, harass and even sue those who help a person in that awful position.
And make no mistake, if the Texas law stands it will spread to other states with like-minded Republican-controlled legislatures.
Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights Said of the Texas law, “We’ve already seen the devastation caused by allowing this extremist law to exist for a few weeks…Patients are being thrown back into a state of chaos and fear, and this cruel law is falling hardest on those who already face discriminatory obstacles in health care, especially Black Indigenous, and other people of color, undocumented immigrants, young people, those struggling to make ends meet, and those in rural areas.”
A law like this does nothing to curb the number of women seeking abortions. It does nothing to assure the safety or care of unwanted children. It does nothing but add to the trauma, add to the misery, add to the cost.
And it rewards the worst kind of predatory stalkers.
Is that really what we want?
Reach Montini at [email protected].
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