Texas has now become a real-life version of the dystopian Republic of Gilead, the christofascist dictatorship depicted in Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel, “The Handmaid’s Tale,” and in the eponymous Netflix series. On the heels of Texas restricting suffrage to Hispanics, African-Americans, disabled, and others by instituting a voting law that unfairly targets minorities and permits violent neo-Nazi thugs to harass voters, it has now instituted a Gestapo-like informant system that rewards private citizens for suing women and others believed to be involved in having and enabling abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. Many women are not even aware they are pregnant at four to six weeks.
Any private citizen who is successful in winning a court judgement against women who receive or seek an abortion or pregnancy termination counseling, doctors and social workers involved in the process, or even Uber drivers taking women to receive an abortion or reproductive health advice can receive a judgement of at least $10,000 plus attorney’s fees. If someone lends a woman their mobile phone to call or Google about receiving an abortion, he or she, also, could be found liable under the new Texas “busybody snitch law.” There are no exemptions for incest or rape, which should make Texas a welcome state for incestuous rapist Republican politicians and mega-church preachers, of which there are many.
The Texas law creates a new economy where people are encouraged to spy on, harass, and intimidate those who they may not even know in return for cash payouts from individual who may not be financially able to pay. Groups like Texas Right to Life have established Stasi-like anonymous tip lines for information on violators. There are already reports that people are taking down license numbers of cars parked in women’s health clinics parking lots.
Failure by a defendant to pay a successful litigant could result in liens, wage garnishments, attachment of bank accounts, and even jail time ordered by courts that find in favor of plaintiffs under the new law.
In a 5-4 decision by the Supreme Court, with the professed anti-abortion Chief Justice John Roberts voting with the three liberals, the far-right justices decided not to block the Texas law from entering into effect. The Supreme Court decision effectively makes the 1973 Supreme Court decision of Roe v. Wade null and void in the state of Texas. Other states are lining up to follow the example of Texas.
But Texas and other states implementing such laws can be made to pay a heavy price for becoming de facto Republics of Gilead.
States that continue to adhere to the U.S. Constitution can restrict official travel by state employees and contractors to states like Texas, thus putting a squeeze on the meetings and events business in Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Corpus Christi, and Austin.
International organizations can target Texas, now one of the world’s most egregious violators of voters’ and women’s rights, for violation of basic human rights enshrined in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Texas is now in violation of several articles in the Human Rights Charter. They include:
Article 12 – “No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home, or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honor and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.”
Article 21 (3) – “The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.”
Sanctions against particular regions of countries are recognized as legitimate under international law. They have been applied against the Russian regions of Crimea and Chechnya, China’s provinces of Xinjiang and Tibet, the self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, apartheid South Africa’s Bantustans of Bophuthatswana, Transkei, Ciskei, and Venda, as well as its territory of South West Africa, Sudan’s Darfur province, Congo’s secessionist Katanga and Kasai provinces and Nigeria’s Biafra and Benin secessionist regions. Texas, too, can be subjected to international sanctions under the UN Charter and international law. Since Texas considers itself a world-class economy, such sanctions could have a desired major economic toll on the state.
One international organization that can bring pressure on Texas is the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA), which is headquartered in Stockholm and which has 33 members, including Australia, Barbados, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Finland, Germany, India, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Peru, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and Uruguay.
Republican members of the Texas legislature should be barred from attending in-person or virtual meetings of the International Parliamentary Union, and other international organizations as representatives of either the United States or the state of Texas.
Actions have consequences and Texas should feel the full brunt of those consequences.
Previously published in the Wayne Madsen Report.
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Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist, author and nationally-distributed columnist. A member of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) and the National Press Club. He is the editor and publisher of the Wayne Madsen Report (subscription required).