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Brian Hodge

I spent the weekend reading more than any reasonable person should be expected to about the new abortion law in Texas, Senate Bill 8. I scratch my masochistic itch by reading legal paper and abusing my memory that would no doubt be put to better use with football stats and pornography. We already have two other columns in this week’s printed edition about abortion generally and this new law specifically. So I don't want to beat a dead fetus. But I do have a few things to say.

First of all you should understand that just like all the previous times some Republicans in a Southern state have written a restrictive abortion law, this one will be overturned. When these types of laws pass a state legislature, pro-abortion advocates always seem to present arguments that are the most hysterical (pun intended). The anti-abortion advocates always seem to get their hopes up that ‘this will be the one’ that will overturn Roe v. Wade, only to watch those hopes float back out to sea. One day the dove will return from the dry, promised land they tell themselves.

Though it may be hard to do so I invite you to drain all of the emotion out of this argument and look at it the way the lobbyists and the lawyers do. The point of making the law so restrictive is to test which provisions the Supreme Court of the US will knock down and which they will use to, incrementally, chip away at legal abortions. The point is not for SCOTUS to ever finally decide one way or the other about the abortion issue because that would screw up the money raised to push the issue one way or another. The particular provision that is unique to this law as opposed to its predecessors is that the State of Texas isn’t enforcing it. The law gives legal standing for private citizens to bring civil, not criminal, actions against pretty much anybody that aids a woman in obtaining an abortion (i.e. Saying, “The abortion clinic is over there,” could get you sued.) The statute of limitations is four years and the, very arbitrary, award in statutory relief for a person who is not involved in the abortion other than their efforts to stop it comes in at $10,000 per abortion. So if I report on Dr. Evil performing an abortion a week in the last four years, 208 abortions, I could be looking at more than $2 million plus recouping my court costs.

Of course this is bonkers and believe me the anti-abortion activists in the Texas legislature do NOT want SCOTUS to uphold this. If it was upheld what would stop the Connecticut Legislature from passing a law that treats the purchasing of a gun the same way Texas did purchasing an abortion? We don’t really want to encourage citizens to start spying on one another for fun and profit.

Each year hundreds of millions of dollars are spent on both the pro and anti-abortion lobby in Washington DC. That pays for advertising campaigns, legal action, and veiled bribery. That is a lot of dough and law firms and lobbyists make it their business to gather up as much of that money as they can. One product that comes from all this money is restrictive abortion bills and the efforts to fight them. It reminds me of a joke. A lawyer comes to town and he is the first lawyer there. He hangs up his shingle and nearly starves to death. Another lawyer moves into town and they both become millionaires.

It is easy to say that you don’t want innocent children to die, and you can get a lot of people to go along with that statement, but some are going to think you are talking about gun control and some are going to think you are talking about abortion. Because when you come right down to it there isn’t much difference in killing a child in a school shooting and aborting one in a clinic exam room. The intention is to cause death.

People don’t decide they want an abortion for fun. They get them when they are desperate. Like it or not many people: doctors, nurses, law enforcement, lobbyists, and politicians benefit financially from that desperation.

A free society depends on the availability of desperate people and moreover it depends on not banning things just because we find them distasteful. Commerce and education are the key to peaceable association with one another. I would say that if we want fewer abortions, or school shootings, then we need to have a serious, respectful conversation about sex, money and death with ourselves and with our young adults.