Texas Anti-Abortion Law and Bounty Hunters
Abortion bounty hunters may become more popular with Texas' new "Heartbeat Act."
The term "bounty hunters" may conjure up images of the American Wild West, but it is still relevant in today's US: The contentious practice enables individuals to report others in exchange for cash incentives.
A practice from a bygone era, it has resurfaced in the aftermath of the recent Texas abortion legislation.
What is permitted after the new Texas abortion law?
Citizens in Texas may now report those who have aided women with abortions under the new law. The legislation, which took effect last Wednesday, differs from past anti-abortion efforts in the US in that it strictly targets the citizens.
It encourages citizens to file civil court charges against individuals who help women in obtaining abortions beyond six weeks of pregnancy, a timeframe in which most women are still unaware they are pregnant.
The citizen in question may be the doctor in charge, the driver who drove the pregnant woman to the clinic or even the family who helped her pay for the surgery. If convicted, they could pay a minimum fine of $10,000 in addition to legal fees.
US President Joe Biden described the idea as foolish and almost against American principles. Some conservative officials in other states have expressed their willingness to follow Texas' lead.
On Thursday, the court rejected a Texas law that nearly bans abortion in the state. Stephen Schoen, a law professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, stated the ruling marked a "dramatic shift to the right of abortion in the court."
History of Bounty Hunting
Bounty hunting stretches back to medieval Europe and is now illegal in the majority of countries across the world. However, it is still common in the United States, where "bounty hunters" are entrusted with tracking down fugitives.
Particularly defendants who were freed on bail from special firms, pending their presence in court. If the accused flees, people are sent to find them and return them. Some of the hunters may be armed with cutting-edge weaponry and even permitted to enter private homes.
Many drew comparisons between the current law and the rewards offered for catching black slaves attempting to escape the enslavement system, according to UCLA law professor Michelle Goodwin.
According to Ken White, a former prosecutor, the statute was intended to punish anyone who conservatives perceive as having connections to abortion with costly repercussions.