By Groff Schroeder
The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommends that adolescent girls visit a gynecologist by age thirteen. In Texas today, this medically important and once deeply private coming of age event for adolescent girls and their families presents significant financial and personal risk. In apparent violation of their oaths of office under the United States Constitution, on September 1, 2021, conservative fundamentalist Texas politicians advanced Law SB 8 into force. On the same day, also in apparent violation of their oaths of office, five justices of the United States Supreme Court allowed SB 8 to become law, ignoring the fact that SB 8 uses circuitous means to thwart many civil rights and human freedoms enumerated in the Bill of Rights. Specifically, SB 8 makes most abortions illegal, enlists “any person” to enforce Texas law (aka vigilantes) through civil suit, pays court fees and at least $10,000 if they prevail, eliminates double jeopardy protection and most legal defenses for the accused, and establishes state law enforced, defacto reproductive enslavement of women and girls to rapists. SB 8 grants sweeping new powers over the lives, bodies, and reproductive processes of women and girls to state government, vigilantes, rapists, and basically anyone and everyone - except women and girls.
Texas SB 8 was apparently literally designed to thwart crucial American legal protections, civil rights, and human freedoms by paying vigilantes (even non-US citizens overseas) to enforce Texas law, systematically evading numerous provisions of the Bill of Rights. The 1st Amendment seeks to ensure the American people exercise freedom of religion and freedom of association. Yet SB 8 requires Texans to comply with fundamentalist anti-abortion religious beliefs, and encourages costly civil suits against anyone who in any way “aids and abets” women or girls who even “intend” to obtain an abortion. The 3rd Amendment states, “no Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house.” Yet how much difference is there between a soldier quartered in your house and a creepy neighbor in your apartment house who acts as a government reproductive crime agent? The 4th Amendment protects the right to be “secure in [your] persons, homes, places and effects,” the 5th Amendment prohibits being “compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against [your]self,” and the 6th Amendment guarantees that “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right...  ...to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.” Yet because SB 8 proceedings are civil not criminal, literally anyone can enforce Texas Law, anyone (even you) can be sued without evidence, no government funded defense counsel will be provided, and “any person” will be able to force women and girls to provide potentially self-incriminating evidence (such as court ordered photographs of the accused's uterine wall). The 8th Amendment prohibits “cruel and unusual punishment,” the 13th Amendment prohibits “involuntary servitude,” and the 14th Amendment states “no state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States.” Yet SB 8 clearly abridges many privileges and immunities of American citizens. And is there anything more cruel and unusual than forcing women and girls to prove their sexual innocence to strangers in court, or forcing women and girls to endure lifetime, state enforced, reproductive involuntary servitude to criminals who raped them?
Texas Law now grants politicians, rapists, and basically anyone on earth sweeping new powers over the lives, privacy, personal freedom, and bodily autonomy of women and girls, and provides basically no means through which women and girls and those associating with them might defend themselves from the state, the courts, abortion/thought crime vigilantes, rapists, and literally anyone who chooses to sue them for even intending to obtain an abortion. Furthermore, especially in the context of simultaneous lawsuits, those sued could easily become unable to defend themselves, and be forced to encourage the woman or girl accused of abortion to admit guilt, triggering Texas state government to pay the abortion vigilantes’ court costs and reward them with at least $10,000. And since those sued under SB 8 cannot recover court costs or damages for failed, frivolous, malicious, or fraudulent lawsuits, there is virtually no risk to Texas’ government sponsored abortion vigilantes, who are free to sue anyone associated with any woman or girl who somehow creates the appearance of obtaining an abortion – for example, by visiting a gynecologist for preventative health care.
It appears that by enforcing SB 8 using vigilantes with lawsuits instead of professional law enforcement officers with criminal indictments, politicians in the state of Texas and the approving Supreme Court Justices have underhandedly, but quite effectively, denied American women and girls and those associated with them, many of the most important legal protections, civil rights, and human freedoms granted by the United States Constitution. It very much appears that the openly partisan authors of SB 8 and those on the Supreme Court who approved it are both violating their oaths to “support and defend the United States Constitution,” and engaging in a devious, intentional attack upon women and girls, and their right to control their own bodies and reproductive processes through an ancient, common, safe, effective, and potentially life saving medical procedure.
Published in the September 29 through October 5 issue of the Colorado Springs Independent with the quotation below.