Wednesday at midnight, the Supreme Court let stand the Texas Heartbeat Act which makes abortion illegal after the 6th week of pregnancy and enforces the law through civil suits brought against those who assist a woman receiving what the bill defines as an illegal abortion. The Wikipedia entry (in bold blue) explains the Texas Heartbeat Act pretty well:
The act allows any person to sue someone who provides abortion care once a signal of “cardiac motion” in an embryo can be detected via transvaginal ultrasound, which is usually possible beginning at around six weeks of pregnancy. Though patients may not be sued, anybody who provides support can be sued, including doctors, staff members at clinics, counselors, lawyers, financiers, and those who provide transportation to an abortion clinic, including taxi drivers. The act incentivizes this process by offering pay-outs of at least $10,000 in addition to court costs if a defendant is proven guilty, and shields those who sue but lose from paying court costs. Plaintiffs do not require any personal connection to a provider in order to bring forth a lawsuit. The law contains exceptions in the case of medical emergency, but not in the case of rape or incest.
In response to the Supreme Court decision, there has been a great deal of depression, anxiety, panic, and rage among the multiracial and socially liberal center-left which has worked hard to preserve the abortion rights laid out in the classic Roe v Wade decision (1973). In particular, feminist groups have been fighting to protect Roe as the Supreme Court has gotten more conservative and have been worried that this day would arrive since the 1980’s.
Well, that day has arrived.
At the same time, people on the center-left have started planning their own attacks on the Texas Bill and the Supreme Court. Justice Sotomayor wrote a scathing dissent, lawyers have been posting about possible legal arguments against the Texas Abortion Act, a national Women’s March has been planned for Oct. 2, and Elie Mystal has useful and creative suggestions about giving abortion providers qualified immunity as agents of the federal government. For its part, the Biden administration has condemned the Supreme Court decision as “constitutional chaos” and the Texas law as “so extreme it does not even allow for exceptions in the case of rape or incest.” President Biden has also promised a “whole-of-government” effort to counter the decision.
Much more can be done though.
In terms of resistance to the Texas Law, people on the multiracial, socially liberal center-left can:
- Create fund to support anyone losing a suit for aiding an abortion past six weeks in Texas.
- Create an “Underground Women’s Railroad” to get women out of state for abortion care
- Finance research for earlier detection of pregnancies.
- Flood the state with “Morning After” abortion medications
- Campaign hard on Texas GOP distraction from the disaster with the 2021 winter storm.
Democrats on the federal level can also do a lot to attack the Texas Abortion Law
- Money. Pledge to spend federal money to repay anyone who loses a civil suit under the Texas Abortion Law.
- Civil Rights. Investigate Texas abortion vigilantes for violating federal civil rights laws. Among other laws, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 specifically protects the Civil Rights of all women. This and other laws should be scoured for clauses that render the enforcement of the Texas Abortion Law illegal.
- Fire a Warning Shot. It would only take ONE Democratic Senator to file a bill calling for the number of Supreme Court Justices to be reduced from 9 to 6. That kind of UNPACK THE COURT bill could not pass over Manchin and Sinema but it would get everyone’s attention, including the Supreme Court itself.
- Get Political. The Biden administration and Democrats in Congress need to get much more political about the Supreme Court. Specifically, they need to go after Court conservatives for their attack on abortion rights and voting rights as “Assaults on the “Fundamental Rights of Americans.” In the same way, the overturning of the rent moratorium is an “Assault on the Basic Functions of Government.” It shouldn’t be too hard. All the court conservatives (Thomas, Roberts, Alito, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Barrett) are hacks who came up through the Republican Party and Thomas, Alito, and Kavanaugh are notable snowflakes who would respond in partisan and reckless ways.
The point is that Mitch McConnell and Trump made conservative dreams come true by stacking up a 6-3 conservative majority on the Supreme Court. Given the Court’s reactionary decisions on voting rights, immigration, and abortion rights, that majority has to be challenged at every turn. Needless to say, the Democrats should fire the Trump Three justices the first chance they get.
Top image from New York Times