Opponents and supporters of an abortion bill hold signs near a news conference outside the Texas Capitol, in Austin, Texas.

Texas’ anti-abortion law empowers private citizens to sue anyone they suspect of providing an abortion.
Some experts see the law as a tool to threaten groups already vulnerable to disproportionate punishment.
Data from 2014 indicates that people of color constituted about 62% of US abortion procedures that year.

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Vigilante action in the form of policing, surveillance, and violence has long endangered people of color. That reality worries some experts who fear Texas’ latest anti-abortion law, which empowers private citizens to sue anyone they suspect of providing, or aiding and abetting an abortion, will disproportionately target people of color.

“If there are people willing to report Black children because they’re selling bottles of water, and have little lemonade stands, which is what we have seen, do we not think there’s already a movement established in this space?” said Michele Goodwin, a chancellor’s professor of law at the University of California, Irvine.

The law’s emphasis on suing people who aid or abet abortions casts a wide net, from clinic employees to counselors to anyone involved in transporting a person to obtain an abortion. Its tacit approval of surveillance, in particular, makes people of color more vulnerable in a legal system where they already face disproportionate punishment.

Data from 2014 indicates that people of color constituted about 62% of the country’s abortion procedures that year. Black, Latinx, and Native American people are also disproportionately affected by financial hardship, which means they may have fewer resources and flexibility to potentially travel outside of Texas for a legal abortion.

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These factors, in addition to public uncertainty over the parameters of Texas’ abortion restrictions, mean that pregnant people of color and their loved ones may live in fear over how the law can be used against them, some abortion-rights experts told The 19th. In other cases, the existence of the law may be used as a tool to threaten and harass people.

The new abortion law has parallels to other racist laws, including the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850

Goodwin said the civilian enforcement clause of Texas’ law reminded her of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 that allowed local governments to deputize private citizens to aid in the capture of runaway slaves.

“People say, ‘Well, that’s just extreme. It’s alarmist.’ It is not,” Goodwin said. “I think what is alarming and what is extreme are the histories and the present that exist that are irrefutable, and that are well documented.”

Targeted surveillance or violence continues today. Research indicates that Black and Latinx families are more likely to be reported to and investigated by child protective services. A report last year from the Southern Poverty Law Center law analyzed research on states with “stand your ground” laws that allow people to use force – in many cases deadly force – when they “reasonably believe” they are facing an imminent threat. Killings involving a White shooter and …read more

Source:: Business Insider

      

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