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Citizen Enforcement of Texas Abortion Ban Could Spread to Other Laws

www.pewtrusts.org
7 min read
fairly difficult
Two state laws that restrict transgender youth also rely on private civil actions.
Abortion rights advocates demonstrate in St. Louis, where speakers warned that Missouri likely will pursue a restrictive abortion law similar to the one in Texas. Jim Salter The Associated Press

The Texas anti-abortion law that incentivizes ordinary people to file lawsuits against health care providers has human rights advocates and legal experts worried that the legal maneuver will spread to other states—and other social issues.

So far, the citizen enforcement clause in the Texas law has fulfilled its intended purpose, dramatically curtailing the number of abortions performed in the state since it took effect Sept. 1.

Abortion rights advocates worry that the legal gambit will quickly expand to other state anti-abortion bills, potentially denying abortions to tens of thousands of people.

At least 14 other states could propose similar legislation, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based reproductive rights research and advocacy group: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Tennessee.

But use of the private enforcement provision, which so far has stymied standard judicial practices in Texas, may not be limited to new anti-abortion laws.

Abortion, Race, Gender: State Republicans Wage Culture Wars Quick View Abortion, Race, Gender: State Republicans Wage Culture Wars A record 97 laws limiting abortion have been enacted in 19 states this year.

Legal scholars predict that state lawmakers will start including citizen lawsuit provisions in other types of laws with the same goals: evading established judicial review and sowing discord in already deeply divided communities.

Two states already have used a similar legal tactic in laws that aim to prevent transgender youth from using facilities or playing on the sports teams that correspond to their gender identity.

A Tennessee law enacted this year allows students, parents or teachers to sue a public…
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