So I'm a little surprised nobody has made an issue (good or bad) of the new Texas abortion law. Before commenting, I decided to do something most commentators will never do. I read the bill. As a staunch pro-lifer, I have no problem with the underlying intent of the bill. I favor banning abortion unless it's necessary to save the life of the mother. I make no bones about that. In principle, I don't have a problem with the law being enforced by private action. We do that with some laws (like Medicaid fraud), but in practice, it's a mess with abortion. (Full disclosure - I've known the lead author, Senator Bryan Hughes for almost 20 years. He is a very decent man of strong character and good intentions.) But I do see some significant problems with the law that give me pause. First, the right to bring the civil action is almost completely unlimited. Only public officials and employees are excluded. Anybody else can bring suit - even if from out of state and even if that person has no interest in the abortion at all. As straight-up busybody can sue. Second, the class of potential defendants is very large, though it interestingly excludes the woman getting the abortion. It's not just the doctor. It's anyone who assists in the process - someone who gives a ride, reimburses costs (including insurers), etc. The wording is also pretty astounding. Liability can be imposed on anyone who "knowingly engages in conduct that aids or abets the performance or inducement of an abortion, including paying for or reimbursing the costs of an abortion through insurance or otherwise, if the abortion is performed or induced in violation of this subchapter, regardless of whether the person knew or should have known that the abortion would be performed or induced in violation of this subchapter." Carefully consider the wording. You don't have to know the abortion violates the law to be liable. There's also a gray area about what must be known. Obviously you have to know that you're engaging in the conduct, but do you have to know that it's aiding or abetting an abortion? What if you're an uber driver or cab driver who takes a woman to a doctor's office and an illegal abortion is done there? There's no question that if you know she's going there for an abortion, you're on the hook (even if you didn't know it was an illegal abortion). However, what if you don't know what she's doing at the doctor's office? You still knowingly gave her a ride. Honestly, it's a gray area as to whether or not you're liable, and that's kinda scary. Third, you do have some defenses if you're sued dealing with what you may or may not have known, but two points about those defenses. First, you have the burden of proof. They are affirmative defenses, not elements of the plaintiff's case. Second, they require that you "perform a reasonable investigation." That's an easy call for the doctor but not a particularly easy or reasonable one for the other countless potential defendants. Is the cab driver really required to ask every woman he picks up if she's going to have an abortion? Third, the statute of limitations is pretty long - 4 years. Fourth, attorney's fees and court costs cannot be imposed against the plaintiff under the Civil Practices and Remedies Code or the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure. What does that mean? It means that the normal penalties that apply to losing plaintiffs (even for filing frivolous pleadings and bad faith pleadings) do not apply here. Anybody can sue anybody in this regardless of merit, and other than their filing fees, there's no downside. Fifth, the normal venue rules are completely rewritten. This law allows the plaintiff to bring suit in the plaintiff's venue even if other options (such as where the defendant is located or where the abortion occurred) are available. (The normal venue rule is far more restrictive.) That means that someone from Deaf Smith County (which I presume to be very conservative and pro-life) can sue a bunch of Austin defendants and haul them into a Deaf Smith County court, and venue can't be transferred without the consent of all parties regardless of hardship of the parties, regardless of whether a fair trial can be had, etc. It's a pretty harsh venue rule. Again, I'm very pro-life, and I like what the law is trying to do, but damn, it's harsh and leaves very significant room for injustice. People who had no role serious role in an abortion could get completely jacked.