SHIELDS: With Dobbs, There Is No Place for Citizen-enforced Abortion Laws


Thursday, July 7, 2022

Abortion being the greatest evil perpetrated by our republic since slavery, and Roe having been a great and unconstitutional hindrance to states being able to forbid the murder of the unborn in a proper fashion, it is most understandable that pro-lifers would be willing to bend rules or enact questionable legislation just as it was understandable for abolitionists to do the same.  

But even as abortion persists in numerous states, we remain the greatest nation in the world, blessed with the greatest Constitution in the world. The American republic is a glorious gift, and we must be extremely hesitant to commit any act that would endanger that gift, our standing in the world, or our Constitution itself. The practices condoned by the unique abortion laws in Texas and Oklahoma threaten our republic even though their intentions are to protect those who inhabit it. 

Roe and Casey made it impossible for states to stop most abortions, so Texas conceived of a clever way around those precedents with its fetal heartbeat law. The law enables private citizens to sue abortionists and those who aid in the procurement of an abortion. With no state official enforcing the law, it makes it difficult for abortion advocates to sue and strike down the law.

The law proved successful in both its elusiveness and in lowering abortion in Texas. The Supreme Court allowed the law to remain in force as it went through the judicial process (a process rendered moot by the Dobbs ruling), and abortion rates dropped dramatically when the law went into effect. I commended the law for preventing many abortions, and it is no surprise that pro-life legislatures sought to imitate it, as Oklahoma did with one of its most recent abortion laws. 

The justification for these laws died with Roe. Citizen-enforced laws of any nature are always concerning, and now that states may ban abortion unobstructed by an activist Court, there is no place for them in the pro-life movement. 

Among the greatest evils in the state of nature was that of self-enforced justice. Each man was his own judge, jury, and executioner. This produced injustice. Civil society allows us to eliminate that injustice to a great extent by granting to the state a monopoly on the right to punish evildoers. 

When citizens are deputized to act as agents of the state in the enforcement of the law, it can easily turn into a vicious tool of tyranny as it did during the Cultural Revolution. The further the regular enforcement of justice gets from officials of the state, the more the administration of justice begins to operate as it did in the state of nature, and the more arbitrary and perverted justice gets until it is no longer justice. 

It is proper for abortion to be banned, and it is proper for citizens to investigate when they think abortions are being performed and to report it to the authorities. It is improper for citizens to possess the powers and responsibilities of the authorities. 

Furthermore, encouraging these types of laws will have dire consequences. California is already considering legislation modeled after the Texas abortion law that will allow private citizens to sue gun manufacturers. Of course, the Texas law is constitutional whereas the California law isn’t, because the Constitution does not recognize a right to abortion but it does recognize a right to keep and bear arms. Even still, we would be unwise to condone laws that can be used by private citizens to deprive their neighbors of their constitutionally protected rights while at the same time depriving us of the typical means by which we can strike the laws down in court. 

It is dangerous to have crimes against society treated as private offenses enforced by private citizens, and it is dangerous to give the Left tactics by which they will attempt to violate our Constitution. Because of this, there is no place for citizen-enforced abortion laws. Return the power of enforcement and punishment to the state where it belongs. 

Jack Shields is a graduate of Texas A&M University and is currently attending Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law. He is an editor and columnist for Lone Conservative, and a reporter for The College Fix.

The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.

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About Jack Shields

Jack Shields is a graduate of Texas A&M University and is currently attending Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law. He is an editor and columnist for Lone Conservative, and a reporter for The College Fix.

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