Vigilante Justice

Texas Senate Bill 8 not only criminalizes abortions performed after the detection of a fetal heartbeat, but also allows anyone to sue parties associated with the procedure, from the drivers who take women to clinics to the medical professionals who perform it, for up to $10,000. As one physician put it, the mere threat of having to litigate every abortion would make the potential cost of operating a clinic untenable.

The bill accomplished its goal. Clinics have essentially been put out of business. Moreover, because private citizens would file suit against the clinic instead of the government, the law, according to Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, turns anti-abortion activists into vigilantes.

The federal Justice Department has sought relief on behalf of women in Texas who want to have abortions. I have no idea what will happen next. My primary concern lies with why abortion has become such a crucial cultural and political litmus test over the last two decades. What is it about this issue that polarizes people so completely? What additional cultural undercurrents are in play? Is there room for compromise on the issue?

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12 Responses to Vigilante Justice

  1. Lexi Holdiness says:

    The Texas Senate Bill 8 is a political and cultural injustice. The Bill is an outright attack on women’s rights. It bans women from making choices involving their bodies. It’s impersonal and an invasion of government power.
    To break the Bill down to its roots, people should turn to the primary reason abortion is such a controversial topic: religion. Numerous people chose to believe that life begins at conception, and therefore abortion is murder. This is a religious and personal belief that, per the constitution, is not allowed to be pressed upon American Citizens in a court of law. The USA is not a theocracy; therefore, any cultural or religious beliefs are subjective.
    Abortion is such a polarizing, controversial topic because the opinions on the matter are polar opposites. There is no middle ground, only the “extremes.” Often, the defense for both positions are opposites too. Religion also gets involved too often, and it becomes personal to the party.
    Let’s look at scenario where a woman is in her 3rd trimester of pregnancy. Should she be allowed to undergo an abortion? Absolutely. The argument should not be based on the progression of the fetus, but on the woman’s decision to terminate the pregnancy. If a woman carried to her third trimester, it’s safe to say she was considering carrying to term and having a child. However, if something so harrowing or important came to surface that she was forced to make the decision to not go throw with the pregnancy, it shouldn’t be a debate on whether or not she’s allowed to. Take the “abortion is murder” and “what about the children” out of the equation. It. Doesn’t. Matter. Instead, have compassion for the person who underwent a traumatic medical procedure AND lost their child. It is never the government’s place to dictate that decision. It’s a basic human rights. It’s women’s rights.
    In the eyes of many, abortion has no compromise. Again, the opinions are often conflicting and radical opposites. However, the compromise would not be to pass a bill that dictates the choices for women. The solution to the problem would be minding your damn business. If you are not the woman carrying the child or the physician preforming the abortion, it doesn’t involve you at all! Absolutely everyone can continue to live their lives as they have always because it truly will have NO effect on them. There’s no reason to be protesting a women’s right to make choices for her body when people could be going on with their days, completely unfazed and unaffected.

    • What I think most pro-choice people get wrong about pro-life people is that we’re trying to restrict women’s rights, when all we’re doing is giving rights to a human that can’t speak for itself. You mention a scenario of a mother in her 3rd trimester, which to be clear is 27 weeks into the pregnancy and a full-term baby is considered so after 37 weeks of pregnancy. Let me ask, in your eyes, what the difference is between a baby that was born at 27 weeks and a baby that is still in the womb at 30? At what point does a ‘clump of cells’ become a human? You insinuated that life doesn’t start at conception… it took me 3 literal seconds to google when life starts, and 2 of those seconds were just because of my slow shitty computer. Princeton defines the start of life as the “Development of the embryo begins at Stage 1 when a sperm fertilizes an oocyte and together they form a zygote,” and just so there’s no confusion let’s define life. The Oxford dictionary defines life as “the ability to breathe, grow, produce young, etc”. These definitions reinforce what I said earlier about growth. Sperm turns into a zygote and the zygote turns into an embryo, the embryo then becoming a fetus. This sounds like growth to me.
      You explicitly stated that “abortion is murder” and “what about the children” doesn’t matter, when in fact it does matter. You can’t just brush off the fact that it would be killing a living human. Then a little later you go back to the whole “human rights” rationale, and you seem to have forgotten to give the living human rights as well. And we both know now that it is in fact a living human because of the definitions stated earlier.
      People should have the freedom to do what they want to their own body, however, it becomes a problem when it affects another life. As I said earlier, I simply serve as a voice for the people that don’t have one. I see it as a lack of empathy for the unborn child on your part. I guarantee that you would say a dog or a cat’s life is valuable, so who are you to determine what life is intrinsically valuable and what life isn’t? How is a life outside of the womb any more valuable than life inside the womb? I don’t know. Just my opinion.

      • Sophia says:

        Does living override consciousness? What is on your plate when you eat, plants and animals? What would you say if I told you that they were alive once too? I’m sure you think human life is more important than the lives you are consuming during your meals, but the difference between us and them is our higher levels of consciousness, that a fetus shows no signs of possessing. How is a fetus more valuable than the millions of other lives ended every day to continue yours? Just my opinion.

      • Eren Riggle says:

        Although you did back up your statement, you failed to cite more information than just one simple definition that you yourself said, “took me 3 literal seconds to google…, and 2 of those seconds were just because of my slow shitty computer…” Attempting to back up your views just based a very quick google search gives your argument no credibility. If you were trying to change the views of someone who is pro-choice, you’d need more evidence and time into research than that. Furthermore, definitions differ from person to person and website to website making them untrustworthy. For example, the website you looked at said life, “Development of the embryo begins at Stage 1 when a sperm fertilizes an oocyte and together they form a zygote.” However, I can say that when I did my research, a different website said that life only truly begins when a being comes into consciousness or that life begins when outside of the womb because that is when you start to effect your surroundings. My definition of something or someone else’s will differ with yours, so it is hard to use that in a debate.

        Secondly, to quote you again you stated firmly that, “What I think most pro-choice people get wrong about pro-life people is that we’re trying to restrict women’s rights, when all we’re doing is giving rights to a human that can’t speak for itself.” Sure, a fetus cannot speak for itself, but in that instant you are also not allowing room for the parent who has to carry the child to speak. The person now might be unable to talk about the brutal and horrific sexual assault, and the product of that encounter, that they now have to live with for the rest of their lives. The National Library of Medicine did a study and found that, “Among adult women an estimated 32,101 pregnancies result from rape each year. Among 34 cases of rape related pregnancy, the majority occurred among adolescents and resulted from assault by a known, often related perpetrator.” All of these people have human rights, they have gotten a taste of life and its horrible back hand, they have experienced Earth first hand. They hold memories, feelings, complex thoughts, and more and those are all being ignored for the sake of a baby who they didn’t choose to have in the first place. This is controlling what they can and cannot do on an physical and mental level, so yes it does restrict their rights as people.

        Finally, when you said, “I see it as a lack of empathy for the unborn child on your part.” you do not consider the feelings of the person carrying the child again. Saying something like this makes it seem like you think that someone who terminates their pregnancy is just doing it just to do it for fun. The internal conflict that will arise when someone begins to consider this is more overwhelming than someone like you or I, who have not been in this position, can even begin to fathom. Someone might want with all of their heart and soul to have a healthy baby, but they might be told that the infant may only get to live a few short hours after birth and that there is nothing they can do to prevent its death. The pure, raw emotion of someone who knows that no matter how hard they try, their baby will die, matches the same level of emotion of people who had good odds that their baby would live and still have their baby pass away. Why put someone through the emotional, physical, mental, and financial stress of having a baby only for it to die/already be dead when they could have a safe abortion that will cut down on those things? In the end, the baby will be gone and the hurt, pain, and suffering of that person will still be there, so saying they have no empathy for the baby is a slap in the face to those people who wanted to keep their baby, but couldn’t for safety, financial, and other personal reasons.

    • Nicolas Neal says:

      The Texas Senate Bill 8 is a political and cultural justice. The Bill is an outright protection of children’s rights. It bans women from making choices involving others’ bodies. It’s impersonal and an invasion of women’s power.
      To break the Bill down to its roots, people should turn to the primary reason abortion is such a controversial topic: women’s convenience. Numerous people chose to believe that life begins at birth, and therefore abortion is good. This is a religious and personal belief that, per the constitution, is not allowed to be pressed upon American Citizens in a court of law. The USA is not a theocracy; therefore, any cultural or religious beliefs are subjective.
      Abortion is such a polarizing, controversial topic because the opinions on the matter are polar opposites. There is no middle ground, only the “extremes.” Often, the defense for both positions are opposites too. Convenience also gets involved too often, and it becomes personal to the party.
      Let’s look at scenario where a woman is in her 3rd trimester of pregnancy. Should she be allowed to undergo an abortion? Absolutely not. The argument should not be based on the progression of the fetus, but on the child’s decision to live. If a woman carried to her third trimester, it’s safe to say she was considering carrying to term and having a child. However, if something so harrowing or important came to surface that she was forced to make the decision to not go throw with the pregnancy, it shouldn’t be a debate on whether or not she’s allowed to (she shouldn’t). Take the “women’s rights” and “my body, my choice” out of the equation. It. Doesn’t. Matter. Instead, have compassion for the person who underwent being terminated AND lost their life. It is never the woman’s place to dictate that decision. It’s a basic human rights. It’s children’s rights.
      In the eyes of many, abortion has no compromise. Again, the opinions are often conflicting and radical opposites. However, the compromise would not be to pass a bill that dictates the choices for children. The solution to the problem would be minding your damn business. If you are not the child being carried or the physician monitoring the child’s health, it doesn’t involve you at all! Absolutely everyone can continue to live their lives as they have always because it truly will have NO effect on them. There’s no reason to be protesting a child’s right to live when people could be going on with their days, completely unfazed and unaffected.

  2. James Talamo says:

    I feel like the Texas Senate Bill 8 is purely unacceptable. It is no place for a government to control a medical process. The biggest thing I see is the huge division in the two sides of the abortion spectrum. Pro-Life and Pro-Choice. Why can’t we just let the people who are carrying the child choose? Because the Pro-Life group is pressing their beliefs on Pro-Choice people. Pro-Lifers continuously try to force their beliefs upon upon others, even though in modern society, its become acceptable to have different beliefs. So why must we continue to try and control others?

  3. Elliot Mathers says:

    i believe having such polar opinions such as not having abortion or having abortion is just stupid to me. there will be problems if we have either but there are inbetweens that would make more simple problems for the population for example a conception law, of course there would be accidents but those would be dealt with in a manner I have not thought of, but if every woman had to state who she wanted the baby from and the date in front of a few third parties who also attest to a voice or paper form the babies had out of consent could have lawsuits and multiple other penalties for. a contraception law could be installed too, there are many ways to help without having the discussion of whether or not women should be able to abort or not. In my opinion abortion for those who need it should be always available though.

  4. Sophia says:

    The Texas Senat Bill 8 simply goes too far. There is a line in between science and a life, but why does the life of an unborn child override the life of a person who can think, breathe, and most importantly live on their own? It is not sensical to force someone with a uterus to carry the burden of having a child. Yes, the child can be put up for adoption once born, but childbirth causes irreversible damage to the human body, and having a child in the world that is only biologically yours must be painful. We all know what leads up to pregnancy, but a woman’s consent is often overlooked, a large reason abortion can be a good thing. The main issue of the matter is that because women feel so passionately about the topic of abortion, people who are pro-life fully believe they reserve the right to have the same amount of passion. Having a religious practice that discusses the topic of abortion in a negative light does not make your feelings more important than someone who can carry a child, regardless of how strongly you feel toward the topic. Along with this, the dedication most pro-lifers feel toward a baby disappears once it is born. Many women who are pro-life find that quickly changing after their first pregnancy scare. So again, why does the people who will never have to have an abortion’s opinion on the topic matter so much? There is little room for compromise, and to be frank there should not be. The many reasons abortion is useful overrides the one reason it is not.

  5. The bill regarding abortion in Texas is something I never thought would happen, considering how far we have come. Taking away the right for a woman to have control over her own body is unthinkable. To be raped, already so broken from the feeling of not being able to control your own body, only to have more power stripped away from you. This is a natural right that should be given to everyone, not just the people who have never had the experience and can’t understand. I understand that at a certain point in the pregnancy, it is not right to take away this life. However, most people when put in the situation, reconsider how immoral it is to not bring a child into the world that won’t be given the proper life it should. The argument of putting the child up for adoption if you are not in the right position to care for it, should not be the solution to this. There are already so many children without families, or without access to a nice home or education. Most mothers are absolutely devasted when holding their child at birth, and immediately having to give it away, without knowing it will be given a good life with a family that will raise it. The wonder of why the mother gave away the child is a thought that sticks with children who are struggling to find their identity. I think the middle ground in all of this is to end this idea that a woman is less than a person. Abortion should be illegal after a certain point, but this topic the rights of some cells without thoughts yet is not as important as a woman and her own body. Consider being pro-life of children after the womb, giving them a better life after birth should be more of a priority in my opinion.

  6. Sophia says:

    The Texas Senate Bill 8 simply goes too far. There is a line in between science and a life, but why does the life of an unborn child override the life of a person who can think, breathe, and most importantly live on their own? It is not sensical to force someone with a uterus to carry the burden of having a child. Yes, the child can be put up for adoption once born, but childbirth causes irreversible damage to the human body, and having a child in the world that is only biologically yours must be painful. We all know what leads up to pregnancy, but a woman’s consent is often overlooked, a large reason abortion can be a good thing. The main issue of the matter is that because women feel so passionately about the topic of abortion, people who are pro-life fully believe they reserve the right to have the same amount of passion. Having a religious practice that discusses the topic of abortion in a negative light does not make your feelings more important than someone who can carry a child, regardless of how strongly you feel toward the topic. Along with this, the dedication most pro-lifers feel toward a baby disappears once it is born. Many women who are pro-life find that quickly changing after their first pregnancy scare. So again, why does the people who will never have to have an abortion’s opinion on the topic matter so much? There is little room for compromise, and to be frank there should not be. The many reasons abortion is useful overrides the one reason it is not.

  7. Eren Riggle says:

    Texas’s abortion ban is a current hot topic across the US, some are in full support for the bill and others are vehemently against it. This issue is so dividing, but why? What makes this one thing so controversial that it can destroy friendships, families, and relationships? The main cause for this lies within religious beliefs. For example, many Christians believe that life starts at conception and therefore the embryo is considered fully human at that moment. This leaves the impregnated with no choice, but to have the baby no matter the circumstances. On the other hand, some pro-choice supporters believe that the person carrying the embryo has the choice no matter what, because it is their life, their body, and their rights as a person. There are so many different factors to juggle around when talking about Pro-Choice VS Pro-Life views. I am apart of the pro-choice community and I think there is slight wiggle room for a compromise, but I doubt either side will ever be able to come to any form of agreement that could lead to any sort of compromise.

  8. Nicolas Neal says:

    The intentional causation of death occurs very often. Hunters pursue and conquer their prey, children crush worms and ants on the sidewalk, and the meat industry ends the lives of 50 billion chickens each year. All of this death occurs without a blink of an eye from the overwhelming majority of people because the victims of such killings are not beings to which humanity holds empathetic attitudes. To kill a human, in contrast, is an action that is intuitively controversial. If someone successfully acted on the intent to cause the death of a human, then it is expected that such an actor would be punished, ostracized, or brought to justice by some mechanism, yet this is not necessarily the case.

    The basis from which abortion possesses its controversy is that the undergoing of induced abortion entails the killing of a human life, and that dissent against such action exists as a consequence of the social nature of such dissenters. For nearly the entirety of human history, there have been societal mechanisms by which the intentional killing of humans is discouraged. Legal systems set forth punishments to those who kill, social groups ostracize or retaliate against those who kill, and wars are fought over anger towards those who kill. It seems undeniable that the intentional causation of human death is, particularly, socially unacceptable; however, the object of termination in abortion is one whose humanity is neglected. Many do not consider embryonic life that possesses a complete human genome to be human at all. They don’t look like the average conception of what a human is, which may explain why the aforementioned human-to-human compassion is often absent in the consideration of prenatal humanity. From this there are two primary categories of thought (although not exhaustive to any extent) which are those who instantiate an empathy towards embryonic life by virtue of their socializations, and those who do not.

    I feel that both of these groups demonstrate patternistic behaviors that are rather unpleasant to observe. For example, it is apparent that many people misrepresent the positions of those with which they disagree, this relates to the second group where the normative position that pregnancy ought not to be prematurely terminated is often reduced to religious prescription. Divine command need not be the only consideration by which ‘pro-lifers’ develop oppositional attitudes towards abortion, rather it is repeatedly the same faculties with which people dissent to socially unacceptable acts that these attitudes are developed. Why is it that those who consider themselves ‘pro-choice’ do not proclaim that being anti-rape is only a religious pursuit, or that being anti-theft is an expression of Godly command? In my intuition, the modern neglection of religion as a means of justifying moral prescriptions serves as a convenience that allows pro-choicers to dismiss many positions without contentual deliberation.

    Unsurprisingly, dullness is not unique to the pro-choice. For instance, the expression, “Abortion is murder,” is regurgitated without impressive contemplation by those who are pro-life. The statement instantiates ill-form. The subject is unquantified, and the predicate is ambiguous; it lacks the ability to possess truth-value by virtue of its amorphousness. The statement’s expression acts less as a medium of communication than as a means to provoke disagreement whose intended end is the entertainment of the expresser, rather than intellectual exercise. Similarly callow, most of those who profess that there ought not to be induced abortion of any sort derive their position from their cognitive states, which they possess as a consequence of their socializations (the process by which one develops their social attitudes and often their normative intuitions). Often, they are unable to consider or doubt their own cognitive states such that the question, “Why is abortion immoral?” will prompt a response resembling: “Because abortion is the killing of a human being,” but the proceeding “Why is the killing of a human being immoral?” is the point at which many pro-lifers fail to answer as this question regards an intuition that is held seemingly as an instilled axiom and not something derived from thought. This is all to say that, like pro-choicers, pro-lifers are subject to the same disappointing behaviors including misrepresentation, lackluster consideration, and unawareness about the conditions by which they hold the very attitudes they debate.

    I imagine that abortion will continue to be a controversial topic of discussion. It will pervade discourse about personal and governmental ethics for quite some time, and perhaps the clichés employed by pro-choicers and pro-lifers will adapt and change to adhere to new semantic or political trends, yet the unchanging constant of abortion will be the illusion of a propositional dichotomy by which the polarity between people will continue without much resistance due to the lack of effort to engage in any challenging contemplations.

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