The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Texas’s Effective Anti-Abortion Law

No abortions after six weeks, any private citizen can sue anyone who “aids and abets” a private abortion, and while there is a medical exception, no exception for rape or incest.

I remember a friend who drove his friend to get an abortion, she didn’t have a car. He’d certainly be sued under this law.

Most women don’t know they’ve pregnant at six weeks, so this is an obvious attempt to make almost all abortions illegal.

An ordinary American, from Texas or elsewhere, may now be able to seek up to $10,000 (£7,200) in damages in a civil court against abortion providers and doctors – and possibly anyone at all involved in the process. That means people like clinic staff, family members, or clergy who encourage or support the procedure could, in theory, be sued.

Turning over enforcement of the Heartbeat Act to private citizens instead of government officials likely means that – in the absence of Supreme Court intervention – the law cannot be challenged until a private citizen seeks damages.

The Supremes have refused to intervene, telling us what we all know: Roe vs. Wade is a dead letter.

I asked my father about abortion once. He was a life-long conservative, though of the old school, and he was personally anti-abortion. But he wanted abortion to be legal. That seemed…odd.

He said, “Ian, I remember when abortion was illegal. All it meant was that women with money still got abortions, and that those who didn’t have money either couldn’t get one, or had to get a dangerous one. You see one women bleed out from an illegal abortion, and your views change.”

My father was one of the world’s biggest assholes, but he was a fair man in most ways.

I get why some people are anti-abortion; I understand the moral argument. But I’m not willing to tell someone else she has to spend nine months gestating a baby; there is a moral argument there, too, and I consider it more important.

In particular, when women can be raped and forced to bear the baby (this is the Texas law), then they are not free.

Texas recently had a huge power outage and the power providers who failed made huge windfall profits. It’s trying to get through an extreme election-fixing bill. It’s generally a regressive state with awful laws.

I would not do business there, and if I lived there and did not follow its politics, I would leave if I could. If I were in charge of a corporation I would not put any offices or factories there. (But then, this is true of much of the South, and not just the South.)

I can already hear people screeching, “Stay and fight!” but remember, people who fight when they’re on the ground and surrounded by guys with steel-toed boots get hurt bad or killed.

The main argument is just that this is the thin edge: What’s coming to Texas now will be coming to you very soon. Roe vs. Wade is doomed; Republican Trumpists are taking over the party apparatus to ensure the next coup attempt succeeds, and Democrats are doing nothing to stop any of this.

Leaving Texas probably isn’t enough.

The best case scenario is probably the US splitting up peacefully. That will be unfortunate for those left-behind, but it beats the entire country falling, or a civil war.

In the meantime, take this stuff seriously: It is the future, and not just in the US.

(My writing helps pay my rent and buys me food. So please consider subscribing or donating if you like my writing.)



Three Simple Policy Heuristics


Open Thread


  1. Hugh

    Yes, conservatives are all about personal choice and freedom, except when they’re not. So they’re against abortion and for forcing women to bear children. But once the kid is born, their job is done and it can go die in a ditch.

    The US isn’t a democracy. The House is gerrymandered, the Senate is wildly unrepresentative, the electoral college is tilted by that lack of representation in the Senate, the Federal courts and the Supreme Court are the most unrepresentative and unaccountable of all, and state government is just bad. So is anybody surprised that women’s rights are tossed in the garbage? It’s like what Martin Niemöller wrote so long ago, “First they came for the Communists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a communist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”

  2. Ché Pasa

    …and Democrats are doing nothing to stop any of this.

    Au contraire! They are saying they’re “fighting.” They are saying they “support” and will “always support” a woman’t right to choose. They are “condemning” in no uncertain terms the regressive voting and abortion laws in Texas and everywhere else. But, you know, they just can’t muster the votes to keep these things from happening, and golly, even if they did, a right wing interventionist Supreme Court would undo any good work that somehow managed to be accomplished. So, rather than worry about all these things — and climate change to boot — it’s better just to lie back and Think of England.

  3. gnokgnoh

    We have been here before, and it was not the end of the republic. It is distressing to go in reverse, belying the myth that progress is a linear arc. The large, indifferent mainstream is getting quickly smaller on so many fronts. The majority (77%) of the country supports Roe v. Wade, including the majority (58%) of Republicans (see 2019 NPR/Maris poll), and they are being forced to pick a side and fight like hell. This is stealth legislation, because they have not been able to reverse Roe v. Wade directly. Not yet, anyway.

  4. Stirling Newberry

    Again: some people like to do evil.

  5. NR

    It’s not just that the Texas law effectively makes abortion illegal. That’s bad enough. But the way they did it is absolutely bonkers insane. Which is par for the course for MAGA Republicans these days, but it’s still worth calling out.

    Under the Texas law, it isn’t state officials who are responsible for enforcing it. They turn that job over to citizen vigilantes instead. It allows private individuals to sue abortion providers or anyone who “aids and abets” a woman in getting an abortion—from doctors to nurses to the receptionist at a clinic, the cab driver, and anyone who helped to pay for it. The bounty for the citizen who sues—who can be absolutely anyone, with no connections at all to the woman in question—is $10,000 plus legal fees. Should the defendant win in a case, they have to pay their own legal fees.

    The law also allows lawsuits against people who INTEND to perform an abortion or “aid and abet” an abortion. This is an open invitation for MAGA assholes to sue anyone they don’t like and try to drown them in frivolous litigation. Remember, even if the victim of the frivolous lawsuit wins in court, they still have to pay all their own legal fees.

    This is the country MAGA Republicans want–one where citizens can collect a bounty for informing on their fellow citizens, and the courts are weaponized against anyone they don’t like. It’s disgusting.

  6. StewartM


    Under the Texas law, it isn’t state officials who are responsible for enforcing it. They turn that job over to citizen vigilantes instead.

    OTW, privatizing law enforcement. Why would anyone not expect this?

    Ian, you might be interested in this story, given what you said about how South and Central American police forces operate:

    “In LA County, the gangs wear badges”

  7. StewartM


    The US isn’t a democracy. The House is gerrymandered, the Senate is wildly unrepresentative, the electoral college is tilted by that lack of representation in the Senate, the Federal courts and the Supreme Court are the most unrepresentative and unaccountable of all, and state government is just bad.

    This is all the result of an error by the founders, that geography would always be the “first principle component” in the variation of political opinion, that people in Maine would be more different than those in Texas, or and Florida would be more different than California. Geography, not wealth or class or other divisions, would best match fit the observed differences in political opinion.

    That might have made sense in the 18th century, where, as David McCullough observed, that “transportation and communication were synonyms, as you couldn’t communicate with anyone faster than it took for someone to carry and deliver a letter to someone else”. Now, with split-second communication, poor people in Texas, Massachusetts, South Dakota, and Washington state have more in common than their richer next-door neighbors, and ditto that with everyone else. Yet if people who are disadvantaged are often the minority in most places, they will be effectively shut out.

    It was Southern whites who figured out this with black voters—by creative gerrymandering you can divvy up the redistricting so that blacks are easily outvoted everywhere but a few places, so have only symbolic representation which doesn’t reflect their true numbers. One of the ways you could make the US House far more representative is to abandon the one-person per district rule requirement (I believe in 1964) and create both a mix of much larger districts (top 2, 3, or 4 get in) and state-wide seats (with several winners).

    For an example–in North Carolina (13 seats) there is a natural division of the state into the Coastal Plan East, the Piedmont Central, and the Mountain West. These districts would contain thus both urban and rural populations. Just have three large districts of approximately the same population, and have, say, the three top candidates in each get in. That would be 9 of the 13, the other four would be selected in a state-wide race where top 4 get in. That would be a system which would be very hard to monkey with to an advantage, and would be far fairer to minority populations to get a shot at representation.

  8. Plague Species

    They should call it Eric Rudolph’s Law. It will unleash an army of Eric Rudolphs on permanent Womb Patrol. Much like the religious police in Saudi Arabia. It’s also a win for rapists. The women they rape are now forced to carry their seed to term and bequeath us all with yet more Frankensteins.

    But hey, look on the bright side, “look, ma, no mask and no vaccine.” Thank you Governor Abbot. I’d really like to take his wheel chair and crutches away right about now and make him crawl on his belly like the cowardly snake he is.

  9. anon

    We have too many human beings already on this planet. We don’t need to bring more unwanted children into this world who will likely be abandoned, neglected, abused, or killed once they are born. I believe the saying that if men could have kids, there would be abortion clinics on every corner. Conservatives will argue that it is a violation of their rights if you tell them to wear a piece of cloth over their nose and mouth in a pandemic to save lives, but they have no problems violating the right for women to choose their own destiny by aborting an embryo.

  10. Mark Pontin

    StewartM: “This is all the result of an error by the founders, that geography would always be the “first principle component” in the variation of political opinion.”

    There was no error from the founders’ viewpoint. To the contrary: the War of Independence/Revolutionary War was in large measure the War to Preserve Slavery from the viewpoint of the majority of the colonial oligarchs who instigated it.

    Slavery remained the most contentious issue in 1787 when those oligarchs, who’d been the driving force behind 1776, were drawing up the US constitution. Thus, the emphasis on states’ rights to preserve the ‘peculiar institution’ — and the slaveholding oligarchs’ wealth — in what would become the slave states.

  11. different clue

    The intelligent answer to “stay and fight” may well be retreat and retrench. Non-retrograde people might well want to find the most potentially defensible non-retrograde states or big regions within states and retreat to those areas if they are not too old to start over. ” Non-retrograde” is the most we should expect to be or expect to find. If one insists on being “progressive”, one dooms oneself to membership in a small and victimizable minority.

    So if non-retrograde people retreat from the retrograde states to the non-retrograde states, or to potentially non-retrogradizable states, those states can become more firmly non-retrograde. The non-retrograde people in these states can use passive aggressive unwelcomeness, a kind of weaponised “Minnesota nice”, to encourage the retrograde people in the non-retrograde states to pick a retrograde state and move there. ( The same could apply to big regions, perhaps).

    Then the non-retrograde states and peoples should try evolving a low-inputs Survival Economy among and between the non-retrograde states and begin a slow and careful “import substitution development plan” to begin deleting goods and services from the retrograde states from entering or contacting the non-retrograde states.

    It should be viewed as preparing for a velvet stealth-secession.

    In the meantime, what should opponents of Forced Childbirth Slavery do in response to Rat Finks suing under this new Fugitive Slave Law? Create extensive databases and information-spreading systems for identifying and doxing every rat fink who brings a suit under this law. Make them known to millions. Get them fired. Destroy their businesses and destroy their lives. If they live in a non-retrograde state, encourage them to move to a retrograde state.

    What can non-retrograde Texans in Texas do now? I am not Texan so I really don’t know. Perhaps participate in a “name, dox, and destroy” program such as what I suggested just above. Perhaps get all the retrograde people out of the non-retrograde fortress-cities and fortress-regions which could emerge in Texas.
    Perhaps form groups with catchy names like TARF ( Texans Against Rat Finks) to see if the law can be frustrated or repealed within Texas.

    Perhaps non-retrograde people outside of Texas can see which Districts elected Texans who voted against the New Fugitive Slave Law. Keep buying goods and services from those non-retrograde parts of Texas. Begin detaching from goods and services provided from within the Retrograde Districts of Texas.

    Perhaps America can peacfully divide into a United States of Modernia and a United States of Shit Headistan, with a Big Beautiful Wall between them.

  12. Joan

    Yeesh. I can think of a number of other states that might follow in these footsteps.

    I’m seconding the people who point out this is class-based. Even with just a credit card limit, people with more money have the funds to fly to a country that allows abortion.

    I always note that the anti-abortion people don’t adopt foster children, raise them up, care for them and love them. I wonder with medical technology whether an embryo could be removed and implanted, like artificial insemination but more involved. In that case, the women who are anti-abortion could own their truth and line up to carry these babies to term and raise them. Ugh I just gave myself chills; that sounds so dystopian.

    If I were living in the US, I’d consider getting sterilized if I was done having whatever number of children I wanted, or didn’t want to have any.

  13. nihil obstet

    I learned about how laws on pregnancy worked to control women when I was in high school. A classmate was pregnant, abortion was illegal, and the father had no intentions of providing any help. Naively I asked why she didn’t take him to court. “He’ll just get five of his friends to swear they might be the father,” came the answer. I said, “That would be great — instead of depending on one man to provide support, she and the child would have six sources of income.” “No,” the less ignorant said, “if you can’t prove that the man is the father, he has no responsibility.” The laws aren’t about the coming child. They’re about controlling the woman.

    Anti-abortionists never even mention men. They appear to say that a woman goes into a room by herself, gets herself pregnant, and then nine months later wants to abort the baby as she goes into labor. For a while a fundamentalist Christian group of men came to the city council meeting every two weeks in my city having signed up to speak to the council, urging them to stop the city sinning, to outlaw abortion. No mention of people, except the sanctified “unborn” babies.

    While we should continue to reject making abortion illegal, I’d be interested in going all out to bring born babies into the picture. Specifically, all born babies should have the means of a healthy life. The state should insure this — if the father can pay an adequate child support amount for the child and its caretaker (usually the mother), the state should collect it and provide it to the mother. A single woman with child responsibilities is in no position to seek out and sue and then collect money — it is the responsibility of the state which forces the birth. If the father can’t pay, then the state is responsible for providing the child support.

    I’d rather the anti-abortionists spend time trying to explain why born babies don’t deserve protection than to have that time to claim that they are protecting “unborn” babies.

  14. StewartM

    nihil obstet

    Anti-abortion-ism was never about being “pro-life”. The people who get so ‘het up about abortion have no problems killing people. As a rule, they’re ok with executions, and they accept wars, which kill a lot of innocent life, including innocent child lives. Heck, they’ll even excuse war atrocities:

    Gallagher, whose nickname was “Blade”, was also accused by fellow Navy SEAL snipers of randomly shooting two Iraqi civilians, a schoolgirl and an elderly man, while veterans reported his conduct to military investigators as being “OK with killing anybody that was moving” and “freaking evil”.

    Employees of Blackwater Security Consulting, now known as Academi, shot at Iraqi civilians, killing 17 and injuring 20 in Nisour Square, Baghdad on Sept. 16, 2007 as they were escorting a US embassy convoy.

    And it’s not about “protecting the children”:

    The incident caused five investigations. The FBI found that at least 14 of the 17 Iraqis killed were shot without any cause, including 9- and 11-year-old boys.

    Instead these people as a rule cheered these war criminals on. Just like the cheered Lt Calley back in the Vietnam War, while sending hate mail to Hugh Thompson, who with his helicopter crew, few in to stop the massacre at My Lai, saving the lives of 36 Vietnamese, most of them children.

    No, it’s all about enforcing their sexual mores. In particular, it’s about making women “pay” for being sexually active (which is why many are also against contraception). They are the Christian Taliban.

    There are a few among them who are consistent in being truly pro-life, who are equally anti-war and equally anti-capital punishment as they are anti-abortion. But these (generally Christian) are as rare as the “Christians” who actually follow something more akin to Jesus’s teachings. Most conservative US “Christians” actually follow a form of tribalist nation-state worship were Americans are the chosen people and (white) American lives count more in Yaweh’s eyes than others.

  15. nihil obstet


    Since that revelatory info that I learned back in high school decades ago, I’ve understood that pregnancy laws are about controlling women. What I am suggesting in the “born” babies campaign is shifting the dialogue from the ludicrous “unborn” babies to a better narrative ground for us.

    We should always try to pick the battlefield to advantage for ourselves.

  16. If a women needs to be forced to house, feed and provide health care to an entity that lacks a brain, the ability to feel, think, or remember than logically Men/Women need to be forced to house, feed and provide health care to every single developed Human being. Though of course if people who oppose abortion are liars who do not care at all about life they won’t agree. Socialism for a fetus and Capitalism for all outside the womb!! Similar to socialism for the rich and capitalism for everyone else.

  17. Arthur

    If there is anyone able to study history in a few thousand years (I kind of doubt it as day-to-day survival will be the main issue) they will look at this moment as the incident that hurried along the breakup to the USA. There is simply no way the various regions of this country can live together. That said, I have no idea what the new map will be. Those who think it will look like Civil War days are mistaken. After all, right now Texas could easily split into a dozen districts. Probably more. Same can be said for my home of Illinois. Head south of I-80 and for the most part one might as well be in ‘Deliverance’. But this could be said of every state in the grand ole Union. So where does that leave us? In uncharted waters. But to those who say the republic will never break up, I am reminded of the first century Celts who probably thought the damn Romans where never going to leave Britannia.

  18. Hugh

    Our word “spirit” comes form the Latin spiritus “breath” and this goes back to the classical notion that the soul entered the body with the first breath. In the 12th and 13th centuries with the re-introduction of Aristotle into Western thought this got an Aristotleian overlay. The foetus passed through stages from a vegetative to animal to human soul. That is the foetus wasn’t fully ensouled (had a human soul) until late in pregnancy/at birth.

    It was only in 1869 that Pius IX in his Bull Apostolicae Sedis formalized the penalty of excommunication for an abortion at any point in a pregnancy. Before this abortion was banned but excommunication was reserved for only late abortions.

    The whole life begins at conception idea really wasn’t the focus of the debate for most of the last two thousand years. For most of that time, the science was sketchy or wrong. In the last 150 years, we have simply forgotten what the terms of the previous debate were. At the same time, the facts of foetal development which we understand far better now are simply ignored. It is the conjunction of bad science with bad theology. And this is what Texas and a hyper-reactionary Supreme Court are trying to stuff down our throats.

  19. Trinity

    I always thought Canadian author Margaret Atwood described their (MAGA Repugnants) “philosophy” so well in The Handmaids Tale (the book, I’ve never seen the show). I read that book long ago, and it was (and still is) chilling. Very prescient.

    Controlling women, or their imposing their sexual mores on women, are the same thing, IMHO. It’s not a stretch to say that women and children suffer the most under their vision of the world. I can get a sense of them when considering a former Veep called his wife “mother”, a derangement (or conflation) of the sickest kind. I don’t know about other women, but hearing about that made me nauseous. Like I said, there are tons of damaged people around and a lot of them are in charge.

    All this insanity isn’t entirely about money. Power over people also appeals to the dark triad personalities, and I guess it’s just as intoxicating and addictive, and perhaps even more so combined with a very large offshore bank account.

    Unfortunately there are no handy ice floes in Texas.

  20. Soredemos

    I don’t see the US undergoing anything as coherent as another two faction civil war. It think it more likely the country will shatter entirely into multiple statelets along fault lines that can probably only be partially predicted. And whatever happens, it won’t be because of this law specifically. This is just one of many episodes in a long story of gradual decline and eventual disintegration.

  21. different clue


    If the US delaminates into dozens or hundreds of statelets, who gets all the A-bombs and H-bombs? Whomever can reach them the fastest and/or hold them the strongest?

    I have read that the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs is heavily penetrated by Evangelical Christians of the Rapturanian Armageddonite sort. The kind of people who would much rather drop H-bombs on New York and San Francisco than on any foreign city. Will they get the A-bombs and the H-bombs?

  22. different clue

    Here is a reddit entry written by a non-retrograde Texan, of whom there are many. He writes about how he and his wife are thinkenplanning to leave Texas for places less MAGAfied and Foxanonned.

    Lest anyone think this is a “southern” thing, MAGA Foxanons are politically powerful here in Michigan. And probably elsewhere in the non-South.

  23. different clue

    Here is a little reddit post about how to crash the Finkline which someone has apparently already set up in Texas.

    Now, I don’t know if what this reddit suggests is strictly “legal” or not, so I merely post it without necessarily endorsing it.

    One wonders whether millions of leaderless bitter DOS-attackers might obtain websites and addresses for all officeholders who voted for this law, all leaders who visibly support this law, etc., and render their addresses and websites and etc. unusable due to volume of ” clarification-seeking inquiries” and etc. If certain businesses are known to support the Fugitive Uterus Law, one wonders it they might also be disabled by traffic flooding . . . . to the point of going bankrupt and into liquidation.

    Not that I would sugGEST doing such a thing. SugGESting it could well be illegal. I merely wonder what would happen if . . .

  24. Hugh

    Even in Red states there are splits between bluer cities and Redder rural areas. So no nice clear dividing lines even there. Conservative whites are already a minority. It’s why they go to such lengths to subvert the electoral process, stack the courts, and deny equal representation to all citizens. Importantly, they do not believe in building coalitions and alliances with other groups to increase their electoral power legitimately. They decided some time ago that the only way to keep their power was to cheat. The question is, are we going to let them?

  25. different clue

    Here is what purports to be a list of companies which supported-with-funding the effort to pass the Fugitive Uterus Law in Texas. Here is the link to that purported list. ( First, it should be established how accurate this list is. Some of those companies do seem awfully respectable to allow themselves to get caught up in something like this.
    Still, iff accurate, people will then have to think about what, if anything, should be done about it. And how. And by whom.)

  26. different clue

    Here is a link to a description of digital things that no nice person would do to the Texas ” rat fink tipline” website, because it just wouldn’t be nice to do those things.

  27. different clue

    And here is an approach to that law that I just saw mentioned in a comment at Naked Capitalism.

  28. someofparts

    Response from Congressional Democrats. Love to see even half of what they threaten actually happen, but not holding my breath.

  29. Joan

    I’m a bit confused why VP Pence calling his wife “mother” is an issue. My parents did this when speaking to us kids. “Why don’t we go ask Mom about that?” “Dad, can you come help us with this?” Or is this something creepier?

    The US fracturing would be really bad (I think we’re all in agreement on that) not only because it would be bloody in terms of intra-American violence, but other world powers would jump in. I could see China getting a foothold on the west coast and basically controlling it. If Canada suffers the same turmoil, Russia could cross the Arctic and into the northern US. Control over fresh water lakes would lead to really bloody skirmishes or outright battles. Yeesh, I hope this doesn’t come to pass!

  30. Plague Species

    That list is probably accurate. This could very well be called the Slave Creation Law as much as it could be called Eric Rudolph’s Law. Humans born into desperation will effectively be slaves their entire lives. Yes, criminals are slaves too, and if you think about it we’re all criminals in a sense considering Man’s war on nature and the war crimes we inflict daily against the living planet.

  31. rw95

    Joan, America’s fracturing and China’s hegemony is essentially baked in at this point. If you’re an American you have two options now. Emigrate, or move to a state that you feel best matches your ideology when the fracture does come. And it’s coming. As a left-leaning person, where do you think you’re going to be safer? Texas, or Minnesota? Georgia, or Massachusetts?

  32. Dan Lynch

    The Texas law is awful, but the SCOTUS decision not to hear the case was based on valid procedural problems. That means the Texas law and others like it will eventually be heard by federal courts once the procedural hurdles are cleared.

    The challengers to the Texas law picked defendants (a state court judge and a court clerk) that do not enforce the law. Indeed, they appear virtually random. That is why five justices did not issue the emergency order. ~ law professor Jonathan Turley

    Eventually some Texas provider will get sued, the lawsuit will eventually be appealed, and eventually the appeal will reach a Federal court. But so far no provider has actually been sued and no Texas official has actually locked the doors of an abortion clinic, hence there is no legal case for SCOTUS to review.

  33. bruce wilder

    Agree about fracturing of American society, but do not see geographic splits as feasible.

    This law is symptomatic of a polity with very low rates of effective mass political organization and participation. This law is draconian as well as sinisterly clever — product of rule by an organized and culturally isolated minority acting in concert in the absence of effective opposition. In other words, there is a democratic power vacuum. And we political observers mostly ignore the vacuum as the deliberate creation of the “money in politics” we complain about constantly and propose remedies to money that ignore the vacuum.

  34. bruce wilder

    Multi-member districts are a good idea, but I wonder how many Americans are politically sophisticated enough to think why, in some coherent fashion. There are movements afoot to promote some form of ranked-choice voting — another good idea. The trouble with good ideas in American politics is that too few believe in the few people promoting good ideas, or that politics can matter.

    I do not believe we discussed here the disappointing campaign of Nina Turner in her bid for Congress in an Ohio district linking Cleveland and Akron. Gerrymandered to ensure a black congress critter. Only, poor blacks do not vote in primaries.

    A large majority favor basic abortion rights, but there is political organization to make that sentiment deliberate and act in concert against contrary views or indifference. That is the vacuum.

  35. gnokgnoh

    Almost every elected official in Harris County (Houston) is now a Democrat, executive, legislative, and judicial branches. It was a massive sweep in the last election.

    No, SOP, the Democrats aren’t that smart; this is a forecast of what happens when a case with standing does reach the Supreme Court. There has been speculation that the Democratic party may be advantaged by the ruling – there are plenty of conservatives who have had abortions.

  36. nihil obstet


    And plenty of conservatives whose adolescent sons have ignored birth control. So they either cough up for child support or get sued by a private citizen for arranging an abortion for the woman.

  37. nihil obstet

    The democratic power vacuum comes from a different view of politics. The right’s culturally isolated majority is organized and funded to create and excite a type of group — guns in some cases, control of women in the abortion wars. Liberals think of getting the courts and the elected officials to rule for them. So the organizations that the general public think are working on issues are frequently co-opted by leaders who want a “seat at the table.” NARAL is the abortion-rights equivalent of the “centrist” democrats who routinely surrender to republicans. Planned Parenthood is somewhat better, but still doesn’t call out elected officials as often as they should.

    People who regard themselves as politically active (they read the NYT) think they are advancing the cause by supporting NARAL and Planned Parenthood.

    Many of these issues with an organizing vacuum are addressed by a national organization whose heads like rubbing elbows with the big boys and girls.

  38. StewartM

    Bruce Wilder

    This law is symptomatic of a polity with very low rates of effective mass political organization and participation.

    That’s not by accident, Bruce. It’s been deliberately set up that way. So much of America’s political system is designed to tell people “don’t bother voting, as it won’t count”. Either your district is so gerrymandered that a vote against the incumbent is a futile protest (often, for me, there’s not even anyone running against him/her), or even if you can vote for someone who might win, the rest of the state government is so lopsidedly unrepresentative your rep will only be registering protest votes.

    Finally, nowadays, even if you manage to win enough seats to control Congress or a state house, the rich will buy off enough votes (Hi Joe Manchin! Hi Kristin Sinema!) by promises of lucrative post-career employment (and don’t kid yourself, that is exactly what has happened) and/or the packed courts will strike it down. As people have noted, if someone analogous to this had happened with some “religious liberty” issue, the court would have jumped in to stay the decision in two seconds.* So even when you win, at least a series of elections, it is likely not to matter. Even the Reaganist right took winning a generation worth of elections, by and large, to bring us down to this point.

    The best fix for much of this would be some form of proportional representation; I think we make way too much of geography as I have said. If we were going to keep a bicameral legislature, make one house purely proportional representation (nation-wide) and the other house based upon multi-winner elections by state/district. Both systems would be much harder to ‘game’ to lock out the opposition parties. And once voters learn that no matter where they live their vote counts, because it can result in things actually being done**, then I remind everyone that a whole sleuth of things in the agenda we want, from the $15/hour minimum wage to universal health care plus more, are popular even among Republicans.

    *The buzz is that Roberts has lost control of the conservative members of SCOTUS and was urging the court right not to go this far. Not because he’s some moderate; as a corporatist-type he’s likely thinking “we got a good thing going here boys, let’s save our power for the labor cases, or business regulations or other things affecting our sponsors’ bottom line and not alarm people and get them angry over something like Roe or gay marriage”.

    ** One of the most dangerous things over the past 50 years or more has been the growth in the power of the presidency. Trump merely showed what a President can do (like blow off SCOTUS decisions and subpoenas and redirect Congressional funding from one thing to another) due to this growth of power. *Congress* was supposed to be the law-making branch of government, but the filibuster has reduced it to impotency, so Presidents of both parties have taken to executive actions when something needed to be done but a single Senator might be blocking it. The threat of the US getting a rightwing strongman like a Victor Orban is a direct consequence of us not having a working legislature.

  39. Soredemos

    @different clue

    Yeah, it’s an ugly prospect. We’ll likely have something like the scenario that didn’t happen when the USSR fell. And remember, we don’t even need a whole crazy branch of the command structure; we just need a single nutjob in one of the silo control rooms.

  40. different clue

    Another idea occurred to me, and since I am not a woman, it is not my place to recommend what women should or should not do. So I will merely describe my idea in the form of a speculative ” what if. . . ”

    Let us assume that out of all the women in Texas, at least one million of them really really don’t like this law. What if . . . they were to gather and prepare specimen-quality samples of the biophysical evidence of their persistent non-pregnant status once a month to the Texas Lawmaker of their choice? Each month? Every month? In the spirit of ” just making sure you know, Mister Lawmaker. I wouldn’t want to be on the wrong side of the law, Mister Lawmaker.” Send samples to their office in Austin. Send samples to their home district offices. Send samples to their personal house address. If they own a business, send samples to all their business addresses. ” Just making sure this reaches you, Mister Lawmaker.”

    Why not send samples to their children in college or wherever their children may be? ” Dear Mr./Ms. Young Person, I know your father, the Right Honorable Mister Lawmaker, wants to receive this and in the spirit of eagerly compliant good citizenship, I just want to make sure this reaches him.”

    And maybe send some samples to the Rat Fink Commission, and to all the relevant people in all the churches which supported this law. ” God is not mocked, and we want you to be sure that we are not mocking God, Mister Reverend Pastor Preacher Sir.”

    Month after month after month, for as long as the law shall stand.

    But as I say, its not advice, its just a random thought which boiled up from inside my head.

    When government has been conquered and occupied and frozen in place by the Social/Cultural Class Enemy the way Stewart M says our government has, perhaps all one can do is to jam the governators at every pressure point they have left us.

  41. different clue

    Somebody named George Hayduke once wrote a series of books on how to get even with people. Here is one of his books.

    I suppose some bitter Texans might want to read this book and all the others in his series of books and fantasize about doing some of these things to the abortion-opponent of their choice. I would never actually recommend doing any of them, certainly not all of them, especially not if its illegal. It could just make for some good tension-relieving fantasy-escapist reading, is all.

  42. someofparts

    diff clue – the catch is that, all said and done, women are responsible for shaping the consciousness of our children – if we become monsters to fight monsters the world becomes a nightmare with no way out because it becomes ruined from the root up

  43. different clue


    Do you really think any of the things people have thought about and/or are suggesting are the monstrous thoughts of monsters? I haven’t heard or read about anyone thinking about how to give the anti-abortion-rights Texas Lawmakers cancer . . . or heart disease . . . or paint gangrene juice on their doorknobs and car door handles so their hands dissolve and fall off . . . or paint a mixture of dimethylsulfoxide, capsaicin and poison ivy oil over those same surfaces . . . . or anything like that.

    And I see nothing monstrous in the creative pranks or culture jams or web address shutdowns aimed at bringing some small measure of inconvenience and awareness-of-their-targets’-displeasure to the Texas Lawmakers who are spreading genuine fear and oppression and persecution.

    I grant that my grasp of morals and ethics may be deficient. If Ian Welsh feels that what I have written about some people suggesting is monstrousness on a par with what the Texas Lawmakers have themselves done and set into motion, perhaps he will find the nicest possible way of telling me.

  44. bruce wilder

    The best fix for much of this would be some form of proportional representation . . .

    I understand the argument for proportional representation as well as multi-member districts, but I do not think it solves a problem that is anchored in the one-two punch of very high rates of non-participation and high rates of partisan participation that is purely performative of tribal virtue. I can imagine people talking thru a topic like voting systems and arriving at a consensus in favor of multi-member districts or alternative systems for tallying the vote. I actually live in the most populous county in the country and we have a touchscreen voting system that cannot be audited. Fantasy v reality.

    People are made passive, and choose to be passive. Or, they choose to get overwrought subscribing to partisan narratives that keep them politically impotent by diverting energy and votes into supporting pointless symbolic actions and corrupt pissants.

    At its best politics is not about voting; rather it is about thinking collectively. Fundamentally, politics must resolve conflicting private interests, while working out what furthers common or shared interests. The arguing is vitally important and it is vitally important to democracy that the arguments should go in the direction of an enlightened understanding of what should be done expressed in or as abstract rules. Rules indifferent to persons as justice should be blind.

    I am not sure Americans most enthused about politics as a pseudo-combat sport played by the fans, not the players, are aware of how futile are the narratives they fight over, and have only a limited understanding of the “real” politics underlying it all. I really cannot imagine what it must be like to think of Trump as a hero. I cannot fathom what faith in Russiagate and the truth-telling insights of Rachel Maddow could be like. Rules and principles are just cudgels to the frenzied MAGA. I really wonder about the remaining stenographers of our famously free press, who happily print or broadcast any thing they are handed. It seemed like every pathetic effort to reflect publicly on the end of 20 years in Afghanistan got drowned out. And even with the last of the elder Kochs heading to the grave, I am not holding my breath waiting for PBS to sustain examination of climate change.

    I am concerned about the escalation of violence in American society. Mass shooting events are weekly events not even covered as news nationally. But, I doubt predictions of civil war. The fracturing is fine-grained and there is not enough deliberation to build political will or coherance. The American Civil War 1861-65 was preceded by an intense period of political struggle and public debate, with wide participation. Newspapers might have been only 8 pages bi-weekly but they published some densely argued stuff and people read them! It was abstract that conflict but vividly imagined (Uncle Toms Cabin) and connected to the self-interest and identity of everyone (westward expansion). The American Revolution (another civil war) was preceded by ten years of political debate and followed by the coda of the debate over the Constitution.

    We have resentments. I fantasize about retribution against some of the political figures who remain inflexibly remote from not just persuasion, but even from the embarassments of being proven wrong, morally and by practical outcomes, about everything. But almost no one shows up, to reject the status quo or remember the falsity of promises made in the past. The liberals think Obama was great and the MAGAs think Trump just needed more time to drain the swamp. Who is going to lead an American public composed of such poor judges of character that they chose Obama, then Trump, then Biden?

    A more politically conscientious People might prefer fairer voting, but fairer voting will not create a conscientious People or enact itself without such a People emerging to push such reforms.

  45. Kfish

    The website for reporting illegal abortions is already down.

  46. different clue


    The rat fink tipline is already down? Then the Bringers of Awareness can move on to the next set of targets.

    And watch to see if/when/where a new and improved rat fink tipline goes up.

  47. different clue

    You know how every state has ” Welcome to . . . ” signs on the highways leading into it right on the border as you are about to enter the state?

    What if some truly creative people figured out how to, without getting caught, modify Texas’s ” Welcome to Texas” signs so they read . . . ” Welcome to Texas, the Rat Fink State” ? Maybe even with a simple visible-from-a-distance picture of Rat Fink on the sign?

    ( images of Rat Fink . . .);_ylt=A0geKJAf.TJh_l8ALUtXNyoA;_ylu=Y29sbwNiZjEEcG9zAzEEdnRpZAMEc2VjA3Nj?p=rat+fink+image&fr=sfp

  48. different clue


    This appears to be how-it-is that the Rat Fink Tipline site went down.

  49. different clue

    And here is another person describing in detail something he hopes no one ever does in order to thwart the Texas law.

  50. NR

    Thinking about it, I’d like to see all airlines immediately stop all flights in and out of Texas, because someone could sue the pilots, the flight crew, and maybe even the terminal workers for flying a woman out of state to get an abortion.

  51. Ché Pasa

    The appearance is that some of the Southern states are trying to achieve the outcome of a functioning — for some people and interests — fascistic government as a kind of demonstration for the national government to follow. It’s clear enough that they have the backing of their own courts and the federal courts up to and including the SCOTUS in much of what they want to do, and there is no reason not to push the envelope just as far as they can. They believe, probably correctly, that nothing will stand in their way. If they fail to reach their objective on one path, they’ll just try another and another and another until they succeed.

    By comparison, the opposition — such as it is — is pathetic. The courts will not back them, yet they plead for relief. The law has no effect when it is set aside or ignored, yet they insist “law” will save them. It will not. Elections cannot correct what is wrong, yet they seek succor in electing different actors, while their opponents jigger the system to make it impossible or illegal to elect anyone other than proto-fascists.

    What is the phrase? “Carpe diem.” Seize the day? When has the political opposition to the fascists ever done that? They don’t. They won’t. They can’t. “Antifa” — to the extent it exists independently of the deep state and provocateurs, and a decade ago it did — is not a political opposition. It doesn’t pretend to be. It is a physical opposition that is itself very weak and scattered. The fascists have been working a long game, falsifying who they are and what they are about. Pretending conservatism, libertarianism, or even progressivism in order to overcome the remnants of a political unity — if not unanimity — a fundamental belief in the “goodness” of truth, justice, and the American Way. That’s gone. The system is so decadent and corrupted and fractured that we get serious (and yes, unserious) efforts to overthrow it, disable it, discard it. The struggle of the factions is right out in the open, but only one side is fighting. Fighting for their own pre-eminence. And they’re winning.

    Texas will keep its anti-abortion vigilante law, and after a while no one will question it. Other, similar laws will be passed and go into effect, and they too will be allowed to stand. It won’t just be over abortion, either. These efforts are pure expressions of Power over the Other — women, minorities, “libs”.

    And they lead directly to a fascist future, ruled by monsters to be sure, and largely unassailable.

  52. bruce wilder

    Opposition? Ha!

    The nominal, partisan opposition is competing to create an authoritarian government with a different flavor of rationales and supposed aims, that’s all. And the issue opposition is an impotent grift.

    Is this particular policy a gift to the Christian Dominionists? I never hear them mentioned in accounts, but Senator Cruz is their man, so they must be a power in Texas politics, no? (But, the main power in Texas politics is Big money.)

    This is plutocracy emerging into ever higher relief, as big money manages politics and media to make law the private weapon of the few and privileged.

  53. StewartM

    Bruce Wilder

    The American Civil War 1861-65 was preceded by an intense period of political struggle and public debate, with wide participation. Newspapers might have been only 8 pages bi-weekly but they published some densely argued stuff and people read them!

    Here I think TV has done politics a real disservice. Say what you want about the famous 1960 debate, but the fact that JFK’s makeup job was better than Nixon’s (who looked like a “sinister chipmunk”) should not have made a difference at all. (People forget it was Nixon who wanted to keep the high tax rates on the rich, and that JFK was for firing up the Cold War arms race anew based on non-existent “bomber gaps” and “missile gaps”). Politicians “win” debates by cutesy rhetorical flourishes (Reagan’s “there you go again” response to Carter’s having quite accurately outlined Reagan’s record on SS and Medicare). Having a forum where how handsome or well-dressed you are, or how cleverly you deliver one-liners, is less important can’t help but be better.

    However, Bruce, I remind you that the media leading up to the US Civil War was as full of “fake news” as our own if not more so. Part of the very reason the South seceded was that Southern newspapers were promoting outrage by writing incendiary things like Lincoln was campaigning on a platform of freeing all the slaves then have them marry white women. As Republican newspapers were not allowed to circulate in the South, so that Lincoln’s actual policy was simply to stop the spread of slavery, not to to touch it where it existed could not be read, such “news” was believed.

    “Fake news” is probably the biggest reason for our current political divide. I believe it is being ginned up by men in conference rooms wearing suits and ties, mostly on the right, to flame grievance politics. As an example, I saw on my linkedIn account a post praising rodeo events and NASCAR races, as these “were the only sports left that played the Star-Spangled Banner before the start”. This is patently and provably false, as anyone who’s either run a 10k or attended a NFL or NCAA event can attest. The recent DC pickup truck bomber’s wife had cancer and he was against all those “Afghan refugees coming in to take away her health care”; and a number of years ago (during Dubya’s time) down the road from me there was a mass shooting at a Unitarian Church (inhabited by “liberals”, of course!) where the shooter (whose home was filled with Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and Jonah Goldberg books) was angry at the “liberals” trying to cut or eliminate the food stamps he was receiving when–when of course it was actually his heros who were responsible for doing that.

  54. Hugh

    I agree with Ché Pasa. This is not our usual political wackiness. These guys are serious, and they’re fascist. They are about control whether it is elections or women’s bodies. You can’t reason or compromise with fascists. You can only fight them or kowtow to them.

  55. different clue


    If we fight them symbolically or performatively so that they win every staged fight and keep getting more power stronger, then we are not really fighting them, are we?

    If we fight them effectively so as to weaken them while strengthening us, so as to put us in an eventual pre-victory position for either exterminating them or at least forcing their unconditional surrender, then we really are fighting them, aren’t we?

    Does anyone have any non-symbolic non-performative ideas for fighting them in a way which is really intended to inflict real pain and real defeat rather than symbolic and performative?

  56. Hugh

    We can start off by calling them what they are. Legitimacy is a word that is getting thrown around here a lot recently. Well, not calling fascists out gives them an enormous amount of cover, and legitimacy. It allows them to demand they be treated like other groups even as they seek to subvert our whole political process. It still amazes me that so many Americans can maintain with a straight face that the US is the one country on the planet with no fascists. We need to get over being in denial. Business as usual is not an option. Can’t we all just get along is not an option. Bipartisanship and working with the other side is not an option.

  57. different clue

    Here’s a bit of light-hearted advice about how some “whos” might do some “whats” about Texas’s new Fugitive Uterus Law.

  58. different clue

    Here’s a story about “Portland bans trade and travel with Texas over Fugitive Uterus Law”. Actually, it seems to be the City of Portland banning itself from spending its tax money on anything Texas-sourced.

    What if this “ban” were more fine-focused? What if it were limited to only self-banning Portland tax-money interaction with those districts of Texas which elected a pro Fugitive Uterus Law officeholder? Such fine focused bans ( enough thousands of them) could begin to degrade and attrit the economy of those parts of Texas which favor that law, while holding harmless those parts of Texas which oppose that law. Perhaps shifting the balance of power over time.

  59. different clue

    Here is an article about how some of America’s biggest most powerful and richest companies funded the Texas officeholders who specifically voted for the Fugitive Birth-Slave Law. Some of these companies are so big and mighty and ubiquitous that boycotting them would be difficult without accepting a 19th Century lifestyle in order to do so. Which is perhaps a test of someone’s true sincerity. How deep is your hatred?

    Anyway, here is the link.

  60. ICARUS

    The civil war had areas that were not divided ,mainly Missouri . It was divided up by opinion not geography, with no middle ground. Brother killing brother, no innocents, one county here had only 3 structures standing, everything else was burned. That is what a future civil war will be. When we are in the middle of this survival will be our only concern. My hope is that some of our culture ,literature ,art, ideas can survive,I have my doughty thou.

  61. different clue

    Here is another example of resistance to the Texas Fugitive Birth-Slave Law. It may end up being effective, if not against the law then against the future effectiveness of elements of the right wing community behind the law.

    This is how para-politics will be conducted more and more.

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