Shortly before midnight on Wednesday, September 1st, the Supreme Court refused to block a Texas abortion law, known as SB 8, that will put an end to almost all medically-assisted abortions in the state. Now, artists, musicians, writers, and comedians are responding to this staggering assault on reproductive rights.
Lucy Dacus has pledged donations from her current tour. “all the money I make at our upcoming shows in Texas will be going towards abortion funds [just so you know],” she tweeted. “if you’re not cool with that don’t come.” She also asked for those attending the shows to “bring extra $ cause I’m gonna figure out a donation situation.” This is particularly brave, because by making this announcement, she may have opened the door to being sued for violating the Texas law — whether there’s legal grounds for that or not.
SB 8 prohibits abortions after about six weeks, before many women know that they are pregnant. But that’s not the most nefarious part. It was drafted in such a way as to make court challenges nearly impossible, by preventing state officials from enforcing the law and instead relying on private civil actions. Already, the state itself cannot be sued because of so-called “sovereign immunity,” and since no state officials will be overseeing the law, there is basically no one to challenge. Instead, private citizens can sue those they believe aided or abetted an abortion, and if they win in court they can collect a $10,000 bounty.
This is a particularly cruel and effective twist. As soon as the law went into effect, most, if not all, abortion providers in Texas stopped offering the procedure — even in cases before the fetus is six-weeks old — because they are expecting a deluge of civil lawsuits from private citizens hoping to claim the bounty. Bizarrely, people from other states can also sue if they believe someone has assisted with an abortion in Texas. The goal is legislative harassment. So while the case probably wouldn’t succeed, it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see someone sue a pro-choice advocate like Dacus based on the promise of donating money earned in Texas towards “abortion funds.”
Dacus is hardly the only artist speaking up. “I believe it is not the role of the federal or state government to deny us the right to make our own reproductive choices,” Amanda Shires wrote. “Rather, it is the government’s charge to protect this right from any agency that might attempt to revoke it.”
Maggie Rogers offered one of the best summaries of the crisis, saying, “this law incentivizes members of the public to sue anyone who helps a patient get an abortion in TX after 6 wks. there are no exemptions for rape and incest. and they won’t stop there. the battle for reproductive health & rights is happening now.”
Bette Midler asked, “Why do #antivaxxers and #antimaskers get to live the ‘my body, my choice’ life, but pregnant women are not allowed to? How is this fair?”
Missy Dabice of Mannequin Pussy called out the silence of supposed allies. “I see a lot of women and non binary people talking about Texas but not nearly enough cis men,” she wrote. “Where the fuck are you? Fuckin fight for someone else for once in your life.”
Emmy the Great put the law in personal terms, stating, “I found out I was pregnant at six weeks.”
“Texas, what the fuck?” Rosie O’Donnell asked in a video. “Before this country turns into a real version of The Handmaid’s Tale, let’s all get together and stop what’s going on in Texas. Keep abortion safe and legal.”
Billy Bragg also compared the law to The Handmaid’s Tale, tweeting “Gilead here we come!” in reference to the fictional government in book and show.
Comedian Andy Richter called for Democrats to take drastic action. “End the filibuster. Expand the Supreme Court. Break the glass and pull the alarm because this is a fucking emergency,” he said.
Actor George Takei, writer Dani Fernandez, and others have also joined the chorus expressing outrage and dismay. Check out a sample of reactions below.
if you are cool with that (and are vaccinated) Austin and Dallas are sold out, but Houston and San Antonio are not, come thru and bring extra $ cause I'm gonna figure out a donation situation https://t.co/vmoZ7iaHTk
— Lucy Dacus (@lucydacus) September 2, 2021
Legitimately: we welcome your help we fkn need your help. When the (hopefully) inevitable protests happen we need you there.
— missy 🙂 (@mannequinpussy) September 2, 2021
I remember reading being pregnant and reading @maevehiggins' article on repealing the Eighth, and crying my eyes out because I couldn't imagine going through this without having chosen to.Advertisement
— Emmy the Great (@emmy_the_great) September 1, 2021
End the filibuster. Expand the Supreme Court. Break the glass and pull the alarm because this is a fucking emergency.
— Andy Richter (@AndyRichter) September 2, 2021
I believe it is not the role of the federal or state government to deny us the right to make our own reproductive choices. Rather, it is the government’s charge to protect this right from any agency that might attempt to revoke it. -me
— ATMOSPHERELESS ™️ (@amandashires) September 2, 2021
this law incentivizes members of the public to sue anyone who helps a patient get an abortion in TX after 6 wks. there are no exemptions for rape and incest. and they won’t stop there.Advertisement
— Maggie Rogers (@maggierogers) September 1, 2021
— Billy Bragg (@billybragg) September 1, 2021
You know what IS a HIPAA violation? Forcing an abortion services provider to divulge whether they met with a young woman more than six weeks after her pregnancy began.
— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) September 2, 2021
The same party that demands "freedoms" just offered Texas vigilantes $10,000 bounties to turn in their neighbors who seek abortions. And the Supreme Court greenlit this.Advertisement
Vote in 2022 like your life depends on it. Because it does.
— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) September 2, 2021
I have a lot of thoughts and emotions today and cannot possibly express them all in this little box. Thinking also of all the doctors who have kept people safe and alive all these years who must also be feeling helpless.
I love TX and it is NOT a monolith.
— Dani Fernandez (@msdanifernandez) September 1, 2021
Why do #antivaxxers and #antimaskers get to live the "my body, my choice" life, but pregnant women are not allowed to? How is this fair? Some say it's Texas' way of keeping black and brown women poor. I say it's also because they want WHITE women to keep replenishing the stock. https://t.co/GeSPmrShuK
— bettemidler (@BetteMidler) September 2, 2021
— ROSIE (@Rosie) September 2, 2021
I am launching a whole-of-government effort to respond to this decision — looking specifically to HHS and DOJ to see what steps the federal government can take to insulate those in Texas from this law and ensure access to safe and legal abortions as protected by Roe.Advertisement
— President Biden (@POTUS) September 2, 2021