Back when Stalin was consolidating his power and establishing the police state that would define the Soviet Union, a legend emerged of a boy who informed on his father for hoarding or selling papers or some offense against the state. The father was then sent to a labor camp and executed. The boy, in turn, was murdered by his own family. Instead of being a villain, he was lauded as a hero of the state and a martyr. The Soviets built statues to the boy, Pavlik, and children across Russia learned about him and his heroic decision to put loyalty to the state before loyalty to his own family.
The state of Texas has now said that abortions after six weeks are illegal and the Supreme Court has decided not to intervene at this time. Most women don’t even know they are pregnant at six weeks. In effect, the law outlaws abortion in the Lone Star State.
The real kicker, though, is the law allows people to sue anyone involved in an abortion in state court. According to the Washington Post, “Private citizens are empowered to police the ban against anyone who helps a woman get an abortion. An ex-boyfriend, a neighbor or a complete stranger can file a lawsuit in any state court in Texas with the potential for a $10,000 payoff — and no financial penalty if the lawsuit is not successful.” The law is begging for frivolous lawsuits that will cause trauma to victims with no consequences to the perpetrators.
The theocrats, though, are delighted. They have already set up hotlines for people to call informing on their friend, relatives, or enemies. A member of Pro-life Waco “predicted that fathers and other relatives will report abortions obtained by female relatives, unhappy that their daughters or sisters chose not to continue their pregnancies.” And these people call themselves pro-family.
The people who have taken over the Republican Party have turned its values upside down. Instead of advocating limited government, they support morality police that uses state courts as a hammer on individual liberty. They have taken a page straight out of Stalin’s playbook. They want to encourage people to inform on their friends and families and offer bounties to do it. It’s truly stunning.
Politically, Republicans in Texas may have overstepped. A solid majority of Americans support abortion rights, including 73% of college freshmen according to a recent poll. The move could politicize young people in the upcoming midterms and might push women further towards the Democratic Party. It certainly gives the party a rallying cry for those for whom abortion rights is important. Expect to see boycotts of Texas in the coming weeks.
The move, though, is shocking. Most Americans have paid less attention to abortion rights, even as Republican legislatures have been passing laws to restrict women’s access to care. People have taken for granted the right to choose what to do with their bodies and families, but this case may serve as wake up call. The law is draconian, divisive, and will pit American against American, using the state to penalize those who believe women should have control over their own bodies. Stalin would be proud.