In the annals of performative outrage, the imposition of having to wear a mask for 15 minutes to protect their fellow Americans from a deadly pandemic while they’re shopping at Walmart has some Texans turning as red as their hats. But when it comes to a woman’s right to choose they suddenly, magically, become the “Party of Pro-Life” again. With the passage of a new state law effectively cancelling Roe v. Wade, Texas Republicans can party like it’s 1499.
But it doesn’t stop there. If anybody even so much as looks cross-eyed like they’re going to violate this new law, any Texas citizen can sue them for not less than $10,000. If the entity being sued is a clinic where abortions are being performed the state can shut them down. So with their livelihoods on the line, a lot of Texas clinics and doctors are going to think twice about giving abortions. Some clinics won’t even think once. They’ll just stop doing abortions altogether, and women will have to return to the back allies of the 1950s.
How the new law works is it outlaws almost all abortions six weeks after the first day of a woman’s last period. Many women don’t even know they’re pregnant by that time. From six weeks and one day the abortion officially becomes against Texas law. If you should so much as give a woman a ride to an abortion clinic six weeks and one day after her last period, an alert Texas citizen (or quivering pile of human excrement, as they are more commonly known) may sue you civilly in a court of law. If they win they will get at least $10,000. If they lose you will still be liable for court and lawyer costs, which could ruin some people.
Let me just say that again. Any Texas citizen any time can take you to court and sue you for at least 10 grand if they suspect you have helped a woman get an “illegal” abortion, (that is, “illegal” as the fascist state of Texas now defines it.) These vigilantes don’t even have to know you or live near you. They can cross America’s second largest state from one end to the other and take you to court.
But this new vigilante law’s biggest target is the abortion providers. If they lose even one case the state of Texas is required to shut the clinic down. Since most clinics won’t take that chance they will stop doing abortions altogether, and with the Supreme Court giving the lower courts a pass (for now, anyway), Texas has effectively ended Roe v. Wade for the women of the state.
Welcome to the Republican world of controlling your body. If Republicans think having to wear a mask for half an hour is an imposition on their rights, saddling a woman with an unwanted child for 18 years is suddenly, paradoxically, a walk in the proverbial park.
Meanwhile Republicans will work tirelessly to make sure that single mothers will have a hell of a time getting food stamps or any form of welfare that helps them raise the child they insist she has. After all, America is the land of the free and the home of the brave. That should be more than enough compensation for a criminal lack of health and childcare.
It’s now time to stack the Supreme Court. Stack ‘em high and stack ‘em deep, I say. And stack ‘em young, too. Since a Supreme Court appointment is a lifetime appointment, four new justices in their 30s would be a good start. And may they live to serve another 50 years. Thirteen could be our new lucky number. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.