Take a moment to appreciate these words spoken in 2021 by an American politician:
"Our creator endowed us with the right to life and yet millions of children lose their right to life every year because of abortion. In Texas, we work to save those lives."
This refreshing statement came from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who signed a new heartbeat law on Wednesday that protects unborn children from the time their heartbeat can be detected (roughly 6 weeks after conception):
Other states have heartbeat laws, but many have been challenged and struck down by federal courts. Such laws are a continued focus because 90% of abortions happen in the first 13 weeks of gestation.
Texas added a unique provision to its own law that prevents Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers from suing the state: it puts the power of enforcement in the hands of We The People.
Here's how that works:
- Individuals are allowed to file lawsuits against abortion providers for each abortion that violates the law, for up to $10,000 in financial damages per defendant.
- This means that a father of an aborted child, for example, could sue an abortion provider that violates the law.
- You don't have to be related to the women who had an abortion, however, to file suit. You don't even need to be a resident of Texas.
- There's no limit on how many people can file suit in each case.
This means that the massive number of Americans who believe the sanctity of life is worth defending have just been given a legal avenue to sue Texas abortion providers into the ground should they provide abortions after a heartbeat is detected.
"It's a very unique law and it's a very clever law," said constitutional law professor Josh Blackman of the South Texas College of Law Houston. "Planned Parenthood can't go to court and sue Attorney General [Ken] Paxton like they usually would because he has no role in enforcing the statute. They have to basically sit and wait to be sued."
"The Texas Heartbeat Act is novel in approach, allowing for citizens to hold abortionists accountable through private lawsuits," said Texas Right to Life. "No heartbeat law passed by another state has taken this strategy. Additionally, the bill does not punish women who obtain abortions."
Rebecca Parma, a senior legislative associate at Texas Right to Life, called the bill "the strongest Pro-Life bill passed by the Legislature since Roe v. Wade."
Heartbeat laws also require abortion providers to check for a heartbeat – something they don't like doing as women often have second thoughts when they see their child on an ultrasound.
Abortion advocates, however, decried the law as creating "Anti-Abortion Vigilantes." Planned Parenthood's president said it was the "most extreme in the country," and that it defied "public opinion and public health."
If having fear and respect for God Almighty and an unwavering desire to save the lives of those who cannot defend themselves is being a "vigilante," then call me freaking Batman.