Reddit Shut Down A ‘Texas Bounty Hunter’ Thread Targeting People Getting Abortions

The Reddit threat was "dedicated to sharing tips on identifying, reporting, and collecting bounty on those breaking Texas law TX SB8."

Screenshot of Reddit page showing r/TXBountyHunters was shut down

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Last week, a new Reddit thread called TXBountyHunters was shut down just days after it appeared. Its mission statement? To share tips “on identifying, reporting, and collecting [the] bounty on those breaking Texas law TX SB8”.

The point was to target people who had sought abortions past six weeks gestation — or even helped provide one — as empowered by Texas’ draconian new abortion laws.

The subreddit was launched just one day after the new TX SB8 laws came into effect, and a sign of things to come, illustrating the eagerness of people to use the laws to thier own benefit.

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 under the guise of taking her to an abortion clinic. “Would it be unethical by bounty hunting standards?” The man asked.

Ethical? Of course not. But the new laws — which ban abortion after six weeks — not only make this kind of bounty hunting legal, they actively encourage it.

What Do The Laws Mean?

The six-week deadline — which is a lot earlier than many people even discover they are pregnant — barely provides enough time to book an appointment after discovering they are pregnant. It also does not provide exemptions for people who have been a target of rape or incest.

But not only that — the laws were constructed in such a way that they employ and encourage other people to enforce them — a kind of vigilante justice setup.  The laws reward people with US$10,000 plus court fees if they successfully sue someone using the laws. Anyone who helps with abortion access, whether that be a friend who contributes money to pay, or even a Lyft driver, can be sued.

The New York Times podcast The Daily says that abortion clinics in Texas have already stopped offering the essential service past six weeks. Kathy Kleinfeld, from Houston Women’s Reproductive Services told NPR that people with money have always been able to access abortion, and will continue to do so.

“This does not help the women who don’t have the resources, who are not able to travel out of state, who don’t have child care, who don’t have jobs, don’t have reliable transportation,” she said. 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, meaning only 10 to 15 percent have been within that six-week window.

Lyft, Uber, And Other Businesses Are Getting Involved

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

The ABC reported Lyft would donate US$1 million to Planned Parenthood, while Match Group — the company that owns Tinder — will set up a fund to assist any employees in the state to seek an abortion in another state. Tech bro Elon Musk refused to comment, despite expanding his business and foundation in the state, telling CNBC on Twitter, “I would prefer to stay out of politics.”

But pro-choice activists fear the new loophole laws will be implemented by other states, and dismantle the rights that Roe V Wade established that enshrines the choice to have an abortion in America without overarching government restriction. Internet activists have used creative tactics — including bombarding Texas Right to Life with Shrek porn — in response to the organisation’s callout for abortion snitchers.

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

He said the six weeks allowed time to get an abortion, and that the state would simply ‘take rapists off the streets’. I mean… a) rape is statistically more likely to be inflicted by someone the victim knows, rather than a stranger, and b) if it’s so easy, why haven’t you already done that, bro?

The United Nations has condemned the laws, describing them as a violation of international law that denies people control of their own bodies.

“This new law will make abortion unsafe and deadly, and create a whole new set of risks for women and girls. It is profoundly discriminatory and violates a number of rights guaranteed under international law,” Melissa Upreti, chair of the UN’s working group on discrimination against women and girls, told The Guardian.