- Bounty-style laws banning abortion in several states offer no exceptions for rape or incest.
- Under the laws, rapists or their families may sue physicians or others who “aid” an abortion for damages.
- They may seek at least $10,000 in damages if a victim aborts a pregnancy in at least five states.
In Texas, Idaho, Tennessee, Ohio and Oklahoma, bounty-style laws banning abortion offer no exceptions for rape or incest and, in some cases, may offer rapists and their families more rights than pregnant women.
The unique bills deputize citizens to sue and pursue civil damages from people who perform, “aid,” or “abet” abortions, including doctors, nurses, and even Uber drivers who knowingly transport patients to their abortion appointment.
The laws do not penalize individuals for getting an abortion, but instead target those who may help them get one.
In Texas, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Ohio, anyone is allowed to sue medical professionals who perform abortions or others who “aid” them for up to $10,000 in damages per abortion.
Civilians may file suit, said Republican Tennessee state Rep. Rebecca Alexander, who sponsored her state’s bill, “regardless of any standing they have in the case,” Today reported.
These bounty-style laws may allow for the family or friends of a rapist — or the rapist themselves, if the assault has not been reported to the police — to sue for civil damages in the event their victim gets an abortion.
Rep. Alexander acknowledged this fact, Today reported, when asked if the family, friends, spouse or neighbors of a rapist could sue under the Tennessee law.
“My assumption is that they could, other than the rapist,” Rep. Alexander said.
In Idaho, the parents, siblings, grandparents, and aunts or uncles of the pregnant person or the fetus may sue — even if they are only related through sexual assault or incest. These family members may sue for $20,000 following an abortion — though the state’s Supreme Court temporarily blocked implementation of the law in April.
However, should Roe v. Wade be overturned, as the Supreme Court indicated it may be in a leaked draft opinion, Idaho’s bounty law, as well as a law making performing an abortion a felony, will take effect.
“If I am raped and choose to have an abortion and my rapist has 10 siblings, is there anything to preclude all of them and their spouses from bringing a lawsuit for $20,000 each?” Democratic Idaho state Rep. Lauren Necochea asked on the House floor when the state’s bill was passed, The Independent reported.
“I’m not sure their spouses are included in that list,” Republican Idaho state Rep. Steve Harris, the bill’s sponsor, replied. “But no.”
Steve Harris’ office did not immediately return Insider’s requests for comment.
At least 11 GOP-led states have passed bans on abortion with no exception for rape or incest, a relatively recent departure from previous party norms which permitted exceptions. Should Roe be overturned, 13 trigger laws already in place across the country will take effect, banning abortion and criminalizing patients and providers to varying degrees.
“My wife is the president of the sexual assault center here in Nashville,” Democratic Tennessee state Rep. Bob Freeman, who opposed the bill passed in his state, told Today. “And the stories that she has shared with me — young 13-year-olds that have become impregnated by a person of power or a family member — I mean rape, incest … And we’re essentially saying, ‘Tough luck, honey. We know what’s best for you.'”
“That, to me, is just appalling.”
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