Culture

Why The /r/TXBounty Hunters Subreddit Got Shutdown

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A new Reddit thread that was created to share information about people who break a new abortion law in the US has been shut down just days after it first appeared online.

Texas’ new law TX SB8 – which is also known as the “Heartbeat act” – is the one that has been all over international news recently.

It effectively bans abortions after six weeks of pregnancy across the entire state of Texas.

The subreddit called TXBounty Hunters was launched just one day after the new abortion law came into effect. And it basically existed to target people who had sought abortions past six weeks gestation — or people who had helped provide one.

A now unavailable post showed a man trying to justify driving a waitress he’d had a one-night stand with to the county sheriff’s office, by tricking her into thinking he was taking her to an abortion clinic.

The man asked the Reddit page whether this was ethical or not by bounty hunting standards.

Not only does the new Texas abortion law make this kind of bounty hunting legal, it also actively encourages it.

Texas’ New Abortion Law

It was designed in such a way that it employs and encourages everyday people to enforce it – kind of like a vigilante justice set up.

What that means is that everyday citizens can sue anyone who performs or aids an abortion procedure after six weeks.

That could be anyone from a friend who contributes money to pay for an abortion, or even an Uber driver who drives someone to their doctor. And if they successfully sue, they could be rewarded with up to $10,000 US dollars, plus court fees.

But why was the law designed this way?

Well, Texas law bars state officials from enforcing abortion laws because of the landmark US Supreme court ruling – Roe V Wade – that made it a constitutional right for a person to have an abortion.

The way Texas has gotten around this ban is by making citizens enforce the new laws rather than state officials.

Planned Parenthood says that historically a majority 85 to 90 percent of Texans who seek an abortion in the state are already at least six weeks into the pregnancy.

And the new law also does not provide exemptions for people who have been a target of rape or incest.

How People Responded To The New Law

Kathy Kleinfeld from Houston Women’s Reproductive Services told NPR that people with money will still be able to access abortions. And that this ban actually impacts people who don’t have the resources to travel out of the state, or who don’t have childcare or a job.

The United Nations condemned the laws, and last week US President Biden’s administration filed a civil lawsuit to try and block the abortion ban.

The Texas Governor, Greg Abbott, has come under fire for the new laws, and has been questioned about whether rape victims would have to carry a child to term.

His reply was that six weeks was plenty of time for an abortion. And his solution to the problems the new law presents for rape victims was that, “Texas will work tirelessly to make sure that we eliminate all rapists from the streets of Texas”.

Heaps of corporations have spoken out against the laws, including Lyft and Uber; both stated they are against the laws, and would cover 100 percent of a driver’s legal fees should they be sued.

But pro-choice activists are scared that the new loophole laws will be implemented by other states and dismantle the rights that Roe V Wade established.

Thankfully, the harmful Redditt thread is no longer online. But this story is far from over.