DOJ will ask Supreme Court to halt Texas abortion law


AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The Biden administration said Friday it will turn next to the U.S. Supreme Court in another attempt to halt a Texas law that has banned most abortions since September.

The move comes as the Texas clinics are running out of avenues to stop the GOP-engineered law that bans abortions once cardiac activity is detected, which is usually around six weeks. It amounts to the nation’s biggest curb to abortion in nearly 50 years and makes no exception for cases of rape or incest.

By going to the Supreme Court, the Justice Department is taking the route that clinics have sought as other legal challenges have failed. In the meantime, Texas women have turned to abortion clinics in neighboring states, some driving hours through the middle of the night and including patients as young as 12 years old.

“People are scared, confused, and other than very early abortion, have nowhere to turn to access safe, legal abortion unless they are able to travel hundreds of miles to another state,” said Jeffrey Hons, president of Planned Parenthood South Texas, whose clinics have stopped offering all abortion services since the law took effect Sept. 1.

The latest defeat for clinics came Thursday night when a federal appeals panel in New Orleans, in a 2-1 decision, allowed the restrictions to remain in place for a third time in the last several weeks alone. Justice Department spokesman Anthony Coley said the federal government will now ask the Supreme Court to reverse that decision but did not say how quickly.

The court already once allowed the restrictions to take effect, but did so without ruling on the law’s constitutionality.

The Texas Attorney General’s Office called Thursday night’s decision by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals a “testament that we are on the right side of the law and life.”

A 1992 decision by the Supreme Court prevented states from banning abortion before viability, the point at which a fetus can survive outside the womb, around 24 weeks of pregnancy. But Texas’ law has outmaneuvered courts so far because it offloads enforcement to private citizens. Anyone who brings a successful lawsuit against an abortion provider for violating the law is entitled to claim at least $10,000 in damages, which the Biden administration says amounts to a bounty.

Only once has a court moved to put the restrictions on hold — and that order stood for just 48 hours.

During that brief window, some Texas clinics rushed to perform abortions on patients past six weeks, but many more appointments were canceled after the 5th Circuit moved to swiftly reinstate the restrictions last week.

Texas had roughly two dozen abortion clinics before the law took effect, and operators have said some may be forced to close if the restrictions stay in place for much longer.

Texas Right to Life, the state’s largest anti-abortion group, set up a tip line to receive allegations against abortion providers but has not filed any lawsuits. Kimberlyn Schwartz, a spokeswoman, said Thursday the group expected the Biden administration to go to the Supreme Court next and was “confident Texas will ultimately defeat these attacks on our life-saving efforts.”

Already the stakes are high in the coming months over the future of abortion rights in the U.S. In December, the new conservative majority on the Supreme Court will hear Mississippi’s bid to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision that guarantees a woman’s right to an abortion.

On Wednesday, 18 state attorneys generals from mostly GOP-controlled states threw new support behind the Texas law, urging the court to let the restrictions stand while accusing the federal government of overstepping in bringing the challenge in the first place. Last month, more than 20 other states, mostly run by Democrats, had urged the lower court to throw out the law.

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland has called the law “clearly unconstitutional” and warned that it could become a model elsewhere in the country unless it’s struck down.



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California bans state-funded travel to Ohio over religion law


California is banning state-funded travel to Ohio over the state’s new law allowing doctors to decline medical services to people on moral or religious grounds.

The Ohio measure triggered a 2016 California law that requires the attorney general to prohibit state-funded travel to states that discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, according to a Friday press release from California Attorney General Rob Bonta.

The ban takes effect Sept. 30, according to the release. Ohio will become the 18th state to which California won’t pay for travel, according to the release.

Ohio legislators tucked the provision into a massive budget bill, House Bill 110, that was recently passed.

The provision’s language is broad, allowing not just doctors but nurses, counselors, social workers, researchers, pharmacists and others to deny services if they have a “conscience-based objection” to the specific service requested.

The law allows health insurers to deny payment for services on the same grounds.

“Whether it’s denying a prescription for medication that prevents the spread of HIV, refusing to provide gender-affirming care, or undermining a woman’s right to choose, HB 110 unnecessarily puts the health of Americans at risk,” Bonta, a Democrat, said in the news release.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s office didn’t immediately respond to an email Friday.

Ohio’s law provides that, “when possible and when the medical practitioner is willing, the medical practitioner shall seek to transfer the patient to a colleague who will provide the requested health care service.”

It also designates that emergency treatment doesn’t qualify for the objections.

In addition to Ohio, California has banned travel to Arkansas, Florida, Montana, North Dakota and West Virginia, Alabama, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee and Texas.

This story was originally published September 24, 2021 2:46 PM.

Related stories from Sacramento Bee

Wes Venteicher anchors The Bee’s popular State Worker coverage in the newspaper’s Capitol Bureau. He covers taxes, pensions, unions, state spending and California government. A Montana native, he reported on health care and politics in Chicago and Pittsburgh before joining The Bee in 2018.





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Travel news latest: Red list quarantine is ‘breach of human rights’, says law firm


A law firm representing travellers affected by the UK’s quarantine hotel policy says it has issued court proceedings against the Government, and slammed the current system as an “unlawful deprivation of liberty”.

London-based PGMBM has previously sought a judicial review of the blanket approach to regulations, which require all travellers coming from a red list country to spend 11 nights in a quarantine hotel at a cost of £2,285 – even if they are fully vaccinated and test negative for Covid.

Tom Goodhead, managing partner at PGMBM, said: “It’s disappointing that the government hasn’t yet realised that this policy is a fundamental breach of people’s human rights. Law abiding citizens who have been double vaccinated should be free from quarantine.

“The idea that they need to pay for the privilege of their own imprisonment is outrageous.”

PGMBM have asked people who were made to stay in hotel quarantine to register their details if they are interested in joining the claim.

“The people that are contacting us for help every day are not reckless globetrotters. They are typically people who have been forced to travel to care for relatives or attend funerals of their parents or siblings,” Mr Goodhead said.

Scroll down for more of today’s travel news.





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Activists focus on tip site in protesting Texas abortion law


DALLAS (AP) — Young people on social media have found a way to protest Texas’ new law banning most abortions by focusing on a website established by the state’s largest anti-abortion group that takes in tips on violations.

They’ve shared short videos and guides on how to flood the Texas Right to Life site with fake information, memes and prank photos; it’s an online activism tactic that comes naturally to a generation that came of age in the internet era.

“I got the idea of, OK, well, we can sabotage these things online. It’s kind of like internet activism. Is it something we can realistically do and it’s not going to take us very long to do it,” said an 18-year-old TikTok user who goes by the name Olivia Julianna, using only her first and middle name due to safety concerns.

The law that took effect this month prohibits abortions once medical professionals can detect cardiac activity, which is usually around six weeks and before some women know they’re pregnant. It doesn’t make exceptions for rape or incest.

Though abortion providers say the law is unconstitutional, they say they are abiding by it.

“The law was not actually designed to be carried out in the sense of litigation, it’s designed to deter,” said Joanna Grossman, a law professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. “It’s just designed to bring the entire system of women’s health care to a screeching halt through fear.”

The website was down over the long weekend after host GoDaddy kicked it off, saying it violated the company’s terms of service, including a provision against collecting identifying information without consent. As of Tuesday, the site was being redirected to Texas Right to Life’s main website.

Texas Right to Life spokeswoman Kimberlyn Schwartz said Tuesday that the website’s domain is now registered with Epik and they’re in the process of moving to a new host, but aren’t yet disclosing which one. Epik used to host 8chan, an online message board known for trafficking in hate speech. Epik representatives didn’t respond to a message seeking comment Tuesday.

Schwartz said they are working to get the tipster website back up but noted that in many ways it is symbolic since anyone can report a violation. And, she said, abortion clinics appear to be complying with the law.

“I think that people see the whistleblower website as a symbol of the law but the law is still enforced, with or without our website,” Schwartz said, adding, “It’s not the only way that people can report violations of the law.”

Rebecca Parma, Texas Right to Life’s senior legislative associate, said they expected people to try to overwhelm the site with fake tips, adding “we’re thankful for the publicity to the website that’s coming from all of this chatter about it.”

And, Parma said, the website is just “another facet of the network we already have in place.” She said they have a network of anti-abortion attorneys and citizens who work with them, including people who are posted outside of abortion clinics and talk to people going in and coming out.

Julianna, who lives in Texas and has more than 136,000 TikTok followers, said that while she sees the tip website as more of a “scare tactic” than a threat, she has taken comfort in the like-minded people she’s found in her quest to thwart it.

“We’ve grown up in this new age of technology,” she said. “So now you don’t feel so isolated with what you believe in and your activism.”

Sean Wiggs, 20, who goes by Sean Black on TikTok, came up with a shortcut people could use to autofill the questions on the site. Wiggs, who lives in North Carolina, said he has received an “overwhelmingly positive” response on social media, and that he hopes efforts like his lead to more people “realizing the power that you have online.”

Julianna said she was inspired by TikTok activists who last year flooded a registration website for a rally in Oklahoma for then-President Donald Trump, although they had no intention of attending. While it’s unlikely they were responsible for the low turnout, their antics may have inflated the campaign’s expectations for attendance numbers that led to a disappointing crowd.

The law, which legal experts say was written in a way that puts defendants at a severe disadvantage, has left abortion providers leery of the potential cost of fighting a flood of frivolous lawsuits.

“I’ve never seen a statute that combines so many elements to disadvantage the defendant,” said Seth Chandler, law professor at the University of Houston.

For one, if the plaintiffs win, they can get attorneys fees and costs, Chandler said. If the defendants win, they can’t. Also, there could be multiple lawsuits filed in different counties based on the same allegation, and the statute prohibits a change of venue, he said.

“Even if the accusations that these vigilantes make are untrue, the staff and physicians would be put in the position of having to defend themselves in court, hire attorneys, travel for hearings, who knows in what county in Texas,” said Amy Hagstrom Miller, CEO of Whole Woman’s Health, which has four abortion clinics in Texas.

Dr. Jonathan Metzl, a professor of sociology and psychiatry at Vanderbilt University, said that although the website seems “comically inept at this point,” it does “what the actual law on the books is asking people to do, which is to report on people.”

Wiggs said that aspect of the law, the “way that they are deputizing private citizens to incentivize them to snitch on their neighbors,” really stood out to him.

“It’s just the way that they’re turning people against each other over an already polarizing topic such as abortion,” Wiggs said.

Texas has a history of creative forms of protest. In 2016, college students protested a new law allowing people to carry concealed handguns in public places, including universities, by walking around campus with sex toys in their hands and strapped to their backpacks, calling the protest “cocks not Glocks.” It got attention.

But, Metzl notes, it didn’t stop the Legislature enacting laxer gun laws.

“It’s a form of protest and resistance, but it hasn’t been effective changing policy,” he said. “The best way to change policy is to win elections.”

___

Ortutay reported from Oakland, California.



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What the Texas Abortion Law Means for California


The near-total ban on abortions in Texas that began last week has reverberated across the nation, with abortion rights advocates fearful of what’s to come as lawmakers in some states pledge to follow suit.

But the looming question in recent days has been what will happen to Roe v. Wade, the landmark ruling that legalized abortion nationwide. Some experts say the Supreme Court’s decision to allow the strict Texas legislation to go into effect suggests it may soon overturn what has been the law of the land for nearly 50 years.

But what does any of this mean for liberal California? The state is home to more than a quarter of the nation’s abortion facilities, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights.

I reached out to experts to find out how the Texas law and the possible repeal of Roe v. Wade could affect California, where more than 100,000 abortions are performed each year.

These were the main takeaways:

The right to an abortion is enshrined in our State Constitution, and the new Texas law doesn’t affect that.

If the Supreme Court were to overturn Roe v. Wade, which could happen next spring, the right to an abortion would be determined by state laws.

California and 13 other states, as well as Washington, D.C., have laws on the books that would keep abortions legal, according to data from the Guttmacher Institute.

In 22 other states, abortion would probably quickly become illegal if Roe were overturned. An America without Roe is not one without any legal abortion, but one with wildly unequal access, as my colleagues have reported.

Some people in states where it’s difficult to obtain abortions may travel to California for treatment. In 2019, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a proclamation “welcoming women to California to fully exercise their reproductive rights.”

Last year, Planned Parenthood clinics in California treated 7,000 patients from other states, a large portion of whom were from Texas, according to Shannon Olivieri Hovis, director of NARAL Pro-Choice California.

Abortion laws in states closer to Texas may include waiting periods or other restrictions that deter women from seeking care there, said Dr. Daniel Grossman, a reproductive sciences professor at the University of California, San Francisco.

“While California is geographically pretty far from Texas it may make sense for some people to get on a plane and come here,” Grossman told me. “I think we will as providers here in California be prepared for increased demand for services.”

Nationwide, 38 percent of reproductive-age women live in a county without an abortion clinic, according to Guttmacher. In Texas, before the new law, that fraction was 43 percent.

In California, it’s 3 percent.

Over the past week, Newsom has seized upon the Texas decision to rally voters. He warned on Twitter that the ban “could be the future of CA” if the recall were successful.

The stakes feel high for many abortion supporters: “There’s no worse timing possibly imaginable than a world where California ends up with an anti-choice governor at a time when Roe v. Wade falls and abortion rights go back to the states,” Olivieri Hovis told me.

But while it’s true that Larry Elder, the leading replacement candidate, has called abortion “murder” and said Roe v. Wade was “one of the worst decisions” by the Supreme Court, anybody who replaces Newsom might not be able to do that much to roll back abortion rights.

Amending the State Constitution requires approval from more than 50 percent of voters, a margin difficult to achieve given the widespread support for abortion here. And an overwhelmingly Democratic Legislature would probably oppose abortion restrictions.

A new governor may be able to enact relatively small-scale changes that would almost exclusively affect women on Medi-Cal, the state’s Medicaid insurance program for low-income people that funds roughly half the abortions in the state, Kaiser Health News reported.

For example, the governor could veto bills expanding access to abortion for Medi-Cal patients or set the reimbursement rates for abortion so low that no doctors could afford to perform the procedure.

For more:

Today’s travel tip comes from a reader, Laura Bergman, who writes:

I live in the San Francisco Bay Area and have family in Ventura. We don’t drive down to see them without stopping in our favorite off-the-beaten-path tiny town called Los Olivos. We enjoy wine tasting, olive tasting and browsing the cute little town.


The Marin Independent Journal published six-word stories about friendship. Here are some of the best ones submitted by readers:

We laughed then, we laugh now. — Jesse N. Alvarez, Novato

Lovers excite. Faithful friends forever delight. — Gailya Magdalena, Lucas Valley

Two hearts, two minds, shared thoughts. — Sharon Eide, Novato


Thanks for reading. I’ll be back tomorrow. — Soumya

P.S. Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: U2, for one (4 letters).

Steven Moity and Briana Scalia contributed to California Today. You can reach the team at CAtoday@nytimes.com.

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Activists focus on tip site in protesting Texas abortion law


DALLAS — Young people on social media have found a way to protest Texas’ new law banning most abortions by focusing on a website established by the state’s largest anti-abortion group that takes in tips on violations.

They’ve shared short videos and guides on how to flood the Texas Right to Life site with fake information, memes and prank photos; it’s an online activism tactic that comes naturally to a generation that came of age in the internet era.

“I got the idea of, OK, well, we can sabotage these things online. It’s kind of like internet activism. Is it something we can realistically do and it’s not going to take us very long to do it,” said an 18-year-old TikTok user who goes by the name Olivia Julianna, using only her first and middle name due to safety concerns.

The law that took effect this month prohibits abortions once medical professionals can detect cardiac activity, which is usually around six weeks and before some women know they’re pregnant. It doesn’t make exceptions for rape or incest.

Though abortion providers say the law is unconstitutional, they say they are abiding by it.

“The law was not actually designed to be carried out in the sense of litigation, it’s designed to deter,” said Joanna Grossman, a law professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. “It’s just designed to bring the entire system of women’s health care to a screeching halt through fear.”

The website was down over the long weekend after host GoDaddy kicked it off, saying it violated the company’s terms of service, including a provision against collecting identifying information without consent. As of Tuesday, the site was being redirected to Texas Right to Life’s main website.

Texas Right to Life spokeswoman Kimberlyn Schwartz said Tuesday that the website’s domain is now registered with Epik and they’re in the process of moving to a new host, but aren’t yet disclosing which one. Epik used to host 8chan, an online message board known for trafficking in hate speech. Epik representatives didn’t respond to a message seeking comment Tuesday.

Schwartz said they are working to get the tipster website back up but noted that in many ways it is symbolic since anyone can report a violation. And, she said, abortion clinics appear to be complying with the law.

“I think that people see the whistleblower website as a symbol of the law but the law is still enforced, with or without our website,” Schwartz said, adding, “It’s not the only way that people can report violations of the law.”

Rebecca Parma, Texas Right to Life’s senior legislative associate, said they expected people to try to overwhelm the site with fake tips, adding “we’re thankful for the publicity to the website that’s coming from all of this chatter about it.”

And, Parma said, the website is just “another facet of the network we already have in place.” She said they have a network of anti-abortion attorneys and citizens who work with them, including people who are posted outside of abortion clinics and talk to people going in and coming out.

Julianna, who lives in Texas and has more than 136,000 TikTok followers, said that while she sees the tip website as more of a “scare tactic” than a threat, she has taken comfort in the like-minded people she’s found in her quest to thwart it.

“We’ve grown up in this new age of technology,” she said. “So now you don’t feel so isolated with what you believe in and your activism.”

Sean Wiggs, 20, who goes by Sean Black on TikTok, came up with a shortcut people could use to autofill the questions on the site. Wiggs, who lives in North Carolina, said he has received an “overwhelmingly positive” response on social media, and that he hopes efforts like his lead to more people “realizing the power that you have online.”

Julianna said she was inspired by TikTok activists who last year flooded a registration website for a rally in Oklahoma for then-President Donald Trump, although they had no intention of attending. While it’s unlikely they were responsible for the low turnout, their antics may have inflated the campaign’s expectations for attendance numbers that led to a disappointing crowd.

The law, which legal experts say was written in a way that puts defendants at a severe disadvantage, has left abortion providers leery of the potential cost of fighting a flood of frivolous lawsuits.

“I’ve never seen a statute that combines so many elements to disadvantage the defendant,” said Seth Chandler, law professor at the University of Houston.

For one, if the plaintiffs win, they can get attorneys fees and costs, Chandler said. If the defendants win, they can’t. Also, there could be multiple lawsuits filed in different counties based on the same allegation, and the statute prohibits a change of venue, he said.

“Even if the accusations that these vigilantes make are untrue, the staff and physicians would be put in the position of having to defend themselves in court, hire attorneys, travel for hearings, who knows in what county in Texas,” said Amy Hagstrom Miller, CEO of Whole Woman’s Health, which has four abortion clinics in Texas.

Dr. Jonathan Metzl, a professor of sociology and psychiatry at Vanderbilt University, said that although the website seems “comically inept at this point,” it does “what the actual law on the books is asking people to do, which is to report on people.”

Wiggs said that aspect of the law, the “way that they are deputizing private citizens to incentivize them to snitch on their neighbors,” really stood out to him.

“It’s just the way that they’re turning people against each other over an already polarizing topic such as abortion,” Wiggs said.

Texas has a history of creative forms of protest. In 2016, college students protested a new law allowing people to carry concealed handguns in public places, including universities, by walking around campus with sex toys in their hands and strapped to their backpacks, calling the protest “cocks not Glocks.” It got attention.

But, Metzl notes, it didn’t stop the Legislature enacting laxer gun laws.

“It’s a form of protest and resistance, but it hasn’t been effective changing policy,” he said. “The best way to change policy is to win elections.”

___

Ortutay reported from Oakland, California.



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Activists focus on tip site in protesting Texas abortion law


DALLAS (AP) — Young people on social media have found a way to protest Texas’ new law banning most abortions by focusing on a website established by the state’s largest anti-abortion group that takes in tips on violations.

They’ve shared short videos and guides on how to flood the Texas Right to Life site with fake information, memes and prank photos; it’s an online activism tactic that comes naturally to a generation that came of age in the internet era.

“I got the idea of, OK, well, we can sabotage these things online. It’s kind of like internet activism. Is it something we can realistically do and it’s not going to take us very long to do it,” said an 18-year-old TikTok user who goes by the name Olivia Julianna, using only her first and middle name due to safety concerns.

The law that took effect this month prohibits abortions once medical professionals can detect cardiac activity, which is usually around six weeks and before some women know they’re pregnant. It doesn’t make exceptions for rape or incest.

Though abortion providers say the law is unconstitutional, they say they are abiding by it.

“The law was not actually designed to be carried out in the sense of litigation, it’s designed to deter,” said Joanna Grossman, a law professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. “It’s just designed to bring the entire system of women’s health care to a screeching halt through fear.”

The website was down over the long weekend after host GoDaddy kicked it off, saying said it violated the company’s terms of service, including a provision against collecting identifying information without consent. As of Tuesday, the site was being redirected to Texas Right to Life’s main website.

Texas Right to Life spokeswoman Kimberlyn Schwartz said Tuesday that the website’s domain is now registered with Epik and they’re in the process of moving to a new host, but aren’t yet disclosing which one. Epik used to host 8chan, an online message board known for trafficking in hate speech. Epik representatives haven’t responded to a message seeking comment Tuesday.

Schwartz said they are working to get the tipster website back up but noted that in many ways it is symbolic since anyone can report a violation. And, she said, abortion clinics appear to be complying with the law.

“I think that people see the whistleblower website as a symbol of the law but the law is still enforced, with or without our website,” Schwartz said, adding, “It’s not the only way that people can report violations of the law.”

Rebecca Parma, Texas Right to Life’s senior legislative associate, said they expected people to try to overwhelm the site with fake tips, adding “we’re thankful for the publicity to the website that’s coming from all of this chatter about it.”

And, Parma said, the website is just “another facet of the network we already have in place.” She said they have a network of anti-abortion attorneys and citizens who work with them, including people who are posted outside of abortion clinics and talk to people going in and coming out.

Julianna, who lives in Texas and has more than 136,000 TikTok followers, said that while she sees the tip website as more of a “scare tactic” than a threat, she has taken comfort in the like-minded people she’s found in her quest to thwart it.

“We’ve grown up in this new age of technology,” she said. “So now you don’t feel so isolated with what you believe in and your activism.”

Sean Wiggs, 20, who goes by Sean Black on TikTok, came up with a shortcut people could use to autofill the questions on the site. Wiggs, who lives in North Carolina, said he has received an “overwhelmingly positive” response on social media, and that he hopes efforts like his lead to more people “realizing the power that you have online.”

Julianna said she was inspired by TikTok activists who last year flooded a registration website for a rally in Oklahoma for then-President Donald Trump, although they had no intention of attending. While it’s unlikely they were responsible for the low turnout, their antics may have inflated the campaign’s expectations for attendance numbers that led to a disappointing crowd.

The law, which legal experts say was written in a way that puts defendants at a severe disadvantage, has left abortion providers leery of the potential cost of fighting a flood of frivolous lawsuits.

“I’ve never seen a statute that combines so many elements to disadvantage the defendant,” said Seth Chandler, law professor at the University of Houston.

For one, if the plaintiffs win, they can get attorneys fees and costs, Chandler said. If the defendants win, they can’t. Also, there could be multiple lawsuits filed in different counties based on the same allegation, and the statute prohibits a change of venue, he said.

“Even if the accusations that these vigilantes make are untrue, the staff and physicians would be put in the position of having to defend themselves in court, hire attorneys, travel for hearings, who knows in what county in Texas,” said Amy Hagstrom Miller, CEO of Whole Women’s Health, which has four abortion clinics in Texas.

Dr. Jonathan Metzl, a professor of sociology and psychiatry at Vanderbilt University, said that although the website seems “comically inept at this point,” it does “what the actual law on the books is asking people to do, which is to report on people.”

Wiggs said that aspect of the law, the “way that they are deputizing private citizens to incentivize them to snitch on their neighbors,” really stood out to him.

“It’s just the way that they’re turning people against each other over an already polarizing topic such as abortion,” Wiggs said.

Texas has a history of creative forms of protest. In 2016, college students protested a new law allowing people to carry concealed handguns in public places, including universities, by walking around campus with sex toys in their hands and strapped to their backpacks, calling the protest “cocks not Glocks.” It got attention.

But, Metzl notes, it didn’t stop the Legislature enacting laxer gun laws.

“It’s a form of protest and resistance, but it hasn’t been effective changing policy,” he said. “The best way to change policy is to win elections.”

___

Ortutay reported from Oakland, California.



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Activists Focus on Tip Site in Protesting Texas Abortion Law | Health News


By JAMIE STENGLE and BARBARA ORTUTAY, Associated Press

DALLAS (AP) — Young people on social media have found a way to protest Texas’ new law banning most abortions by focusing on a website established by the state’s largest anti-abortion group that takes in tips on violations.

They’ve shared short videos and guides on how to flood the Texas Right to Life site with fake information, memes and prank photos; it’s an online activism tactic that comes naturally to a generation that came of age in the internet era.

“I got the idea of, OK, well, we can sabotage these things online. It’s kind of like internet activism. Is it something we can realistically do and it’s not going to take us very long to do it,” said an 18-year-old TikTok user who goes by the name Olivia Julianna, using only her first and middle name due to safety concerns.

The law that took effect this month prohibits abortions once medical professionals can detect cardiac activity, which is usually around six weeks and before some women know they’re pregnant. It doesn’t make exceptions for rape or incest.

Political Cartoons

Though abortion providers say the law is unconstitutional, they say they are abiding by it.

“The law was not actually designed to be carried out in the sense of litigation, it’s designed to deter,” said Joanna Grossman, a law professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. “It’s just designed to bring the entire system of women’s health care to a screeching halt through fear.”

The website was down over the long weekend after host GoDaddy kicked it off, saying said it violated the company’s terms of service, including a provision against collecting identifying information without consent. As of Tuesday, the site was being redirected to Texas Right to Life’s main website.

Texas Right to Life spokeswoman Kimberlyn Schwartz said Tuesday that the website’s domain is now registered with Epik and they’re in the process of moving to a new host, but aren’t yet disclosing which one. Epik used to host 8chan, an online message board known for trafficking in hate speech. Epik representatives haven’t responded to a message seeking comment Tuesday.

Schwartz said they are working to get the tipster website back up but noted that in many ways it is symbolic since anyone can report a violation. And, she said, abortion clinics appear to be complying with the law.

“I think that people see the whistleblower website as a symbol of the law but the law is still enforced, with or without our website,” Schwartz said, adding, “It’s not the only way that people can report violations of the law.”

Rebecca Parma, Texas Right to Life’s senior legislative associate, said they expected people to try to overwhelm the site with fake tips, adding “we’re thankful for the publicity to the website that’s coming from all of this chatter about it.”

And, Parma said, the website is just “another facet of the network we already have in place.” She said they have a network of anti-abortion attorneys and citizens who work with them, including people who are posted outside of abortion clinics and talk to people going in and coming out.

Julianna, who lives in Texas and has more than 136,000 TikTok followers, said that while she sees the tip website as more of a “scare tactic” than a threat, she has taken comfort in the like-minded people she’s found in her quest to thwart it.

“We’ve grown up in this new age of technology,” she said. “So now you don’t feel so isolated with what you believe in and your activism.”

Sean Wiggs, 20, who goes by Sean Black on TikTok, came up with a shortcut people could use to autofill the questions on the site. Wiggs, who lives in North Carolina, said he has received an “overwhelmingly positive” response on social media, and that he hopes efforts like his lead to more people “realizing the power that you have online.”

Julianna said she was inspired by TikTok activists who last year flooded a registration website for a rally in Oklahoma for then-President Donald Trump, although they had no intention of attending. While it’s unlikely they were responsible for the low turnout, their antics may have inflated the campaign’s expectations for attendance numbers that led to a disappointing crowd.

The law, which legal experts say was written in a way that puts defendants at a severe disadvantage, has left abortion providers leery of the potential cost of fighting a flood of frivolous lawsuits.

“I’ve never seen a statute that combines so many elements to disadvantage the defendant,” said Seth Chandler, law professor at the University of Houston.

For one, if the plaintiffs win, they can get attorneys fees and costs, Chandler said. If the defendants win, they can’t. Also, there could be multiple lawsuits filed in different counties based on the same allegation, and the statute prohibits a change of venue, he said.

“Even if the accusations that these vigilantes make are untrue, the staff and physicians would be put in the position of having to defend themselves in court, hire attorneys, travel for hearings, who knows in what county in Texas,” said Amy Hagstrom Miller, CEO of Whole Women’s Health, which has four abortion clinics in Texas.

Dr. Jonathan Metzl, a professor of sociology and psychiatry at Vanderbilt University, said that although the website seems “comically inept at this point,” it does “what the actual law on the books is asking people to do, which is to report on people.”

Wiggs said that aspect of the law, the “way that they are deputizing private citizens to incentivize them to snitch on their neighbors,” really stood out to him.

“It’s just the way that they’re turning people against each other over an already polarizing topic such as abortion,” Wiggs said.

Texas has a history of creative forms of protest. In 2016, college students protested a new law allowing people to carry concealed handguns in public places, including universities, by walking around campus with sex toys in their hands and strapped to their backpacks, calling the protest “cocks not Glocks.” It got attention.

But, Metzl notes, it didn’t stop the Legislature enacting laxer gun laws.

“It’s a form of protest and resistance, but it hasn’t been effective changing policy,” he said. “The best way to change policy is to win elections.”

Ortutay reported from Oakland, California.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



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Portland moves to ban Texas travel, trade to protest new abortion law


Portland City Council is to consider an emergency resolution this week to ban future travel, goods and services from the state of Texas in protest of the state’s new abortion law. 

In statement released Friday, Mayor Ted Wheeler said City Council will hold a vote on the resolution on Wednesday, Sept. 8, with the intent to ban Portland’s “future procurement of goods and services from, and City employee business travel to, the state of Texas.” 

“The Portland City Council stands unified in its belief that all people should have the right to choose if and when they carry a pregnancy and that the decisions they make are complex, difficult, and unique to their circumstances,” Wheeler said. “The ban will be in effect until the state of Texas withdraws its unconstitutional ban on abortion or until it is overturned in court. City legal counsel is currently evaluating the legal aspects of this proposed resolution.”

The Texas state law, which took effect last Wednesday, allows anyone anywhere to sue anyone connected to an abortion in which cardiac activity was detected in the embryo — as early as six weeks into a pregnancy before most women even realize they are pregnant.

PORTLAND POLICE’S NEWLY RESURRECTED GUN VIOLENCE TEAM CAN’T FIND OFFICERS TO FILL UNIT: REPORT 

By Friday, state District Judge Maya Guerra Gamble granted Planned Parenthood a temporary restraining order under the new law, shielding its clinics from whistleblower lawsuits by the nonprofit group Texas Right to Life, its legislative director and 100 unidentified individuals.

In Portland, Wheeler affirmed, “This law does not demonstrate concern for the health, safety, and well-being of those who may become pregnant. This law does not recognize or show respect for the human rights of those who may become pregnant. This law rewards private individuals for exercising surveillance and control over others’ bodies. It violates the separation of church and state. And, it will force people to carry pregnancies against their will.”

“We stand with Chief Justice John Roberts, Justice Elena Kagan, Justice Stephen Breyer, and Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who fought to block this attack on the reproductive rights, freedom, and autonomy of people across the country,” the mayor’s statement continued. “We urge other leaders and elected bodies around the nation to join us in condemning the actions of the Texas state government. Portland City Council stands with the people who may one day face difficult decisions about pregnancy, and we respect their right to make the best decision for themselves.” 

Portland has grown a reputation for its liberalism, and as the Oregon’s largest city often seen clashes between far-left and far-right groups, other violent crime has been on the rise. In August, Portland police was struggling to find officers willing to serve on its newly resurrected gun violence unit, which was dismantled over a year ago at the height of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Homicides have surged since the unit was disbanded last summer after the Portland City Council voted last summer to slash the police bureau’s budget by $15 million. Amid the uptick in gun violence, Wheeler, a Democrat, proposed a new unit in March renamed the “Focused Initiative Team.”

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This comes a year after Wheeler condemned former President Donald Trump’s efforts to intervene in Portland as violent, anti-police demonstrations targeting federal property persisted last summer in the wake of George Floyd’s death. By April, however, Wheeler was calling for the public’s help to “unmask” members of the “self-described anarchist mob” who have engaged in acts of violence and vandalism in recent months. 

Fox News’ Thomas Barrabi and The Associated Press contributed to this report.  



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