Criminal Prosecution Of Texas Abortion Bounty Hunters Proposed By Congress

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In Texas, a law recently went into effect banning nearly all abortions after some six weeks of pregnancy, at which point many don’t even know that they’re pregnant. Ghoulishly, the law includes provisions allowing private citizens to sue those suspected of involvement in the procurement of an abortion that has been made illegal under the law. Now, a group of Democratic House members on the House Judiciary Committee have asked Attorney General Merrick Garland to be open to criminal prosecutions of those who bring lawsuits related to the obtaining of an illegal abortion in Texas.

Under the system established by the oppressive Texas bill, those who bring abortion-related lawsuits according to the legislation’s provisions are entitled to at least $10,000 if they prove their claim. Thus, what’s essentially a bounty system has been set up, targeting those who may assist with the carrying out of pregnant people’s reproductive rights. The Democrats on the Judiciary Committee who recently wrote to Garland characterized this bounty system as “chilling.” Addressing Garland, the Democrats also said as follows:

‘We write to ask you to use the full power of the Department of Justice to defend a woman’s constitutional right to choose an abortion, a right now under assault by Texas Senate Bill 8 (“SB 8”).  Because the Department cannot permit the second largest state in the Nation to deprive women of their constitutional rights by outsourcing the enforcement of SB 8 to private individuals, we urge you to take legal action up to and including the criminal prosecution of would-be vigilantes attempting to use the private right of action established by that blatantly unconstitutional law. ‘

The Democrats added that “the Department of Justice cannot permit private individuals seeking to deprive women of the constitutional right to choose an abortion to escape scrutiny under existing federal law simply because they attempt to do so under the color of state law.” Those behind the letter also observed that “the Department is fully empowered to prosecute any individual who attempts, “under color of any law,” to deprive a United States citizen of “any rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the Constitution.”” Read Democrats’ comments to Garland in full at this link.