As the political battle over abortion continues, both sides have begun to use private-cause laws in attempts to strike a balance.
Unlike typical laws that rely on government enforcement, private cause of action laws do not involve any government penalties for breaking them. Instead, law breakers can be prosecuted by private citizens.
In principle, private cause of action laws should not be counted as infringement of a state on rights, even though they punish actions that are unconstitutional for states to punish. This is because citizens enforce the law.
So far, the law appears to allow both pro-life and pro-abortion legislators to enact laws that would have previously been struck down by the Supreme Court.
In Texas, a recent law bans abortions with heartbeat detection, while in California, signing a bill that pro-life activists say effectively outlawed photography outside abortion clinics. waiting to do. Both rely on personal cause of action for bill enforcement.
The Texas bill follows efforts by Georgia, Iowa, North Dakota and others to ban abortions for unborn babies with heart palpitations.
However, the Supreme Court struck down all these bills. Because of Roe v. Wade, the Court considers abortion in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy a constitutional right. The heart starts beating in the sixth week.
The Texas bill effectively dodges the Supreme Court, prohibiting abortion with lawsuits to citizens, said Mark Dixon, a Texas pro-life activist who leads Right to Life East Texas.
“Abortion is ending another human’s life,” he said. “My reasons for being against suicide are the same reasons I am against abortion.”
Dixon was an early adopter of the personal cause of action strategy that was used in the recent Texas bill. He leads a nationwide effort to end abortion using these laws, one small town at a time.
Because of Dixon’s work, 34 cities in Texas have outright outlawed abortion, using laws similar to statewide Texas law. Most places that have passed these ordinances have less than 3,000 people. But they add up. In all, 350,449 Texans now live in cities that have outlawed abortion.
So far, personal cause of action seems to be working. The Supreme Court has dismissed the appeal of groups supporting abortion.
Some, including Holly Gatling, executive director of South Carolina Citizens for Life, see the denial as an opportunity for states to decide abortion laws.
“We are in a very exciting time legislatively, and with legal issues that are going to the US Supreme Court,” she said. “I would dare to say that the court is inclined to return the issue to the state.”
American United for Life government affairs attorney Katie Glenn says the court does not have a legal basis to overturn the Texas law and the future of Texas law is unknown.
“You have to show that you have suffered damages and they haven’t demonstrated it in order to file a lawsuit,” she said. “So the court is going to enforce the law.”
However, laws that circumvent constitutional precedent can be a double-edged sword.
In California, legislators recently voted on a bill that could use a private enforcement mechanism against pro-life protesters. Currently, it awaits Governor Gavin Newsom’s signature.
The text of the bill prohibits abortion clinic patients, providers and assistants from being photographed for display online. If someone takes a photo, the person taking the photo can sue them or seek injunctive relief.
According to Susan Arnall, director of outreach and engagement at the Right to Life League, the bill effectively bans photography in public anywhere near an abortion clinic.
“The original purpose of the bill was to prevent harassment of people,” Arnall said. “We can all agree on that. But they went too far. They’re even saying look, you can’t videotape.”
Arnall said he and other pro-life protesters had people throw eggs at them, knives at their feet, and confronted angry protestors. But videotaping these acts may soon become illegal.
Arnall said that if pro-life activists post a video of their protest at an abortion clinic and a patient or employee appears in one frame, they could face trial.
“The First Amendment protects speech in public places,” she said. “Public places are state-owned markets and you have the right to take photographs and make political speeches in public places. The public sidewalk is a public space in front of Planned Parenthood. “
But because California’s law relies on private enforcement by trial, it’s possible that previous Supreme Court rulings on similar cases would not apply, Arnall said.
“The analogy is the same,” said Arnall. “Just as Texas is attempting to undermine abortion rights by using a private cause of action, California is attempting to curtail First Amendment rights.”
He said it was likely that the court would refuse to hear the emergency appeal.
The Epoch Times reached out to California Assembly Member Rebecca Bauer-Kahn, the author of the bill, but did not receive any comment before press time.
This News Originally From – The Epoch Times