Here’s What Texas Abortion Law Says
Two groups of people are not eligible to sue: government entities and employees (whose exclusion helps protect the law from legal challenges) and rapists (to prevent an attacker from cashing in on a victim’s abortion). Professor Ziegler said the latter prohibition seemed “less than airtight” in practice, given how many sexual assaults are reported and how difficult it is to get punishment.
Either way, abortion would still be illegal. “If a minor is sexually assaulted and her mother helps her get an abortion,” Professor Ziegler said, “the mother can be prosecuted, not the rapist.”
Understand Texas Abortion Laws
Texas officials have kept themselves legally untouched.
Section 171.207 (page 5): The requirements of this sub-chapter shall be specifically enforced through private civil actions described in section 171.208. No enforcement … may be taken or threatened by a political subdivision against this State, a political subdivision, a district or county attorney, or an executive or administrative officer or employee of this state or any person.
Section 171.208 (page 9): This state, a state official, or a district or county attorney may not interfere with an action brought under this section. This sub-section does not prohibit any person mentioned by this sub-section from filing a brief statement to an amicus curiae in action.
Section 171.211 (page 12): This State has sovereign immunity, a political subdivision has official immunity, and every officer and employee of this State or a political subdivision has official immunity in any action, claim, or counterclaim, or any legal or equitable action of any kind that challenges one’s legitimacy. provision or application of this Chapter, on constitutional grounds or otherwise.
These clauses separate SB 8 from several similar restrictions that Texas and other states have previously attempted to implement. Previous laws sought to criminalize abortion at a certain point in pregnancy, with violators being prosecuted by the state. But SB 8 establishes a civil violation—not a crime—and forbids any state agent from enforcing it. Instead, it outsources that right to citizens.
The intention was to eliminate legitimate targets for abortion providers or patients to challenge the constitutionality of the law. State officials, who are usually defendants, can use procedural objections to evade judicial scrutiny of the essence of the law – which happened last week.
The entire enterprise rests on the principle of sovereign immunity, which holds that people cannot sue states unless they are suing a specific authority or agency that enforces a given law. . Section 171.211 makes this clear, claiming that Texas and all its officers are immune to constitutional or other challenges to SB8.
Notably, however, Texas reserves the right to file amicus curiae — or “friends of the court” — abbreviations with its officials, a powerful tool that can allow the state to influence matters while asking them to themselves. Seeks to avoid inspection by disconnecting it.
Lawyers are discouraged from challenging the law.
Section 30.022 (page 15): Any person, including an entity, lawyer, or law firm, who applies any law, ordinance to this State, a political subdivision, any governmental entity or public official in this State, or any person in this State seeks declaratory or injunctive relief to prevent rules, regulations, or any other form of law that regulates or prohibits abortion or that limits taxpayer funding to persons or entities who perform or promote abortion in any state or federal court, or Represents any suit seeking such relief in any state or federal court, is jointly and severally liable to pay the prevailing party’s costs and attorney’s fees.
Lawyers who challenge SB8 or any other Texas abortion law, or represent someone who does, may be held responsible for the other party’s legal fees — a strong qualifier for admitting such cases. dissatisfaction.
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