The Texas Heartbeat Act
On September 1, 2021 the Texas Heartbeat Act, which was approved by lawmakers in May, went into effect as the law of the state. Some describe this law as the toughest anti-abortion measure in the United States. The law prohibits abortionists from performing an abortion “if the physician detected a fetal heartbeat for the unborn child.” The law has a unique provision for its enforcement that is garnering much attention. It bans state officials from enforcing the law but allows for private citizens to bring charges in civil courts against anyone who performs an abortion banned by the law. Those who are sued and found guilty will be required to pay at least $10,000 in damages and pay for other legal fees. The legal fight for and against the law has already reached the U.S. Supreme Court and is likely to continue for many years.
Sadly, the Texas law falls short of what is needed in the United States: the repeal of the Roe v. Wade decision (1973) that legally sanctions the murder of unborn humans. But it is heartening to know that the law is saving lives, and the issues of debate surrounding the law are worth our attention as Christians. Below is an article by Rebecca Parma that was published by thefederalist. com.1
The Texas Heartbeat Act is Saving 100 Babies’ Lives Every Single Day
Right now, more than 100 babies are being saved from abortion every day in Texas. The Texas Heartbeat Act is currently enforceable, even as the abortion industry and Biden administration attempt to thwart it. There has been much legal back-and-forth and misrepresentation of this life-saving law, particularly on the unique way in which it is enforced. Let’s cut through that confusion. The Texas Heartbeat Act prohibits elective abortion after the preborn child’s heartbeat is detected. Those who commit an abortion after this biological marker in the child’s development, as well as those who knowingly aid and abet in that illegal abortion, can be sued. The lynchpin that has allowed the law to take effect is that the state is not allowed to enforce the law; rather, it is the responsibility of private individuals to hold the abortion industry accountable for following the law.
So far in Texas we are seeing the abortion industry comply with the new law. Eighty-five percent of abortions that previously would have been occurring in our state are now illegal. More than 100 babies per day are being given a chance at life. There have not been any credible assertions of violation. This means that the unique threat of private lawsuits under this law is successfully saving babies.
Civil penalties are the most effective in pro-life laws because the abortion industry is profit-driven. The industry profits off killing preborn children and does not want to lose money. So it complies with pro-life laws (even as it fights them in the courts). That is why the Texas Heartbeat Act uses civil remedies—because it incentivizes compliance from the abortion industry.
Despite the assertion by pro-abortion advocates and media, this is not vigilantism, and the civil remedies are not a bounty. The threat of a lawsuit and paying out at least $10,000 for a violation is the consequence set up under this law for engaging in an illegal activity, namely, performing an abortion after the baby has a heartbeat.
Penalties function to deter illegal activity and to encourage compliance. Vigilantism implies lawlessness, and filing a lawsuit is not lawless. If a person believes an illegal abortion has been committed, she can bring a suit under the law, and a judge will evaluate the evidence and proceed from there.
The same holds for those who aid or abet in an illegal abortion. Rideshare platforms have ranted about this part of enforcement. However, Texas law already had a definition of aiding and abetting long before the Texas Heartbeat Act, and judges are used to applying this standard in other criminal activities.
For a driver with a ridesharing platform to be sued under the aiding and abetting provisions of the Texas Heartbeat Act, he would have to know where he’s taking the pregnant woman, how far along in the pregnancy she is (is she past the point at which the baby’s heartbeat is detectable?), and whether she’s entering that abortion facility to obtain an abortion. This is the kind of high legal standard a judge would use in determining aiding and abetting of an illegal activity.
No Frivolous Lawsuits
The same goes for the fear of “frivolous lawsuits.” There is already a legal standard under which judges consider and dismiss frivolous lawsuits that existed long before this law. Even if you don’t trust the pro-life activist who can bring the lawsuit, trust our legal system and the judges who are used to handling these situations every day, and are equipped through legal and evidentiary standards to do so.
The ability of any individual to bring a lawsuit under the Texas Heartbeat Act is a type of private enforcement that is already used in other areas of law (such as Medicaid fraud), including to a limited degree in other pro-life law. The Heartbeat Act merely extends this approach.
Besides, most pro-lifers who would bring a lawsuit under the Texas Heartbeat Act are not interested in monetary compensation— they are interested in preborn lives being spared from a violent and unjust death. That is why the law is clear that a pregnant woman cannot be sued under the law, because the purpose is to hold those who profit off the deaths of preborn children accountable: the abortion industry.
But why try this unique enforcement mechanism in the first place? Because the pro-life movement is tired of district attorneys refusing to enforce pro-life laws and activist federal judges holding pro-life policies up in court for years on end, if not indefinitely. It is time to try a new approach. And that new approach is working.
Texas is the first state to actually see a heartbeat law take effect—the Texas Heartbeat Act is the strongest pro-life law since Roe v. Wade. The anti-life mob is trying to cancel the Texas Heartbeat Act, but they have not been successful. So instead they are misrepresenting the law and constantly nitpicking and finding new objections.
But the most important aspect of the law is this: Thousands of tiny Texans are being spared from the violence of death by abortion because of the way the Texas Heartbeat Act is enforced. No wonder those who promote abortion are so up in arms over its ingenuity.
The dangers of TikTok
I know a little about Facebook. I do not have an account of my own anymore and only periodically use my wife’s account. But I am told young people do not use Facebook very much. There are other social media platforms that are much more popular among young people, and the fastest growing platform is TikTok. I have never used TikTok, so I admit that I have no firsthand knowledge of it. But from what I have read, it is a very dangerous platform for anyone to use and especially for children and teens. Ever heard of a TikTok challenge? I had not until I started seeing news reports about TikTok’s list of “school” challenges. In September the “devious lick challenge” debuted on Tik- Tok. Students were “challenged” to steal items from their schools. Schools have reported theft of many different items, which has often included the destruction of other property. In October the new challenge was called “slap a teacher” or “smack a staff member.” If you do an Internet search, you will find there are alarming reports of students actually recording themselves slapping teachers and running away from them and then publishing these acts on TikTok. There are despicable challenges planned for the next nine months, which are not reprinted here because some of them are too vulgar to reprint and all of them promote evil. Are we overseeing the use of TikTok by our children and young people? Of course, we do not want them to participate in these challenges. But we also should forbid them from watching and being entertained by those who are posting videos about these challenges.
Reports also show that TikTok exposes children and young people to videos of things such as pornography and drug use. It is bad enough that such evil is easily found by those who are seeking it on TikTok. But even if this content is not pursued, TicTok actively tries to “feed” it to accounts that belong to minors. This evil practice was exposed by an article appearing September 8, 2021 on The Wall Street Journal’s webpage. 2 The writers set up dozens of TikTok accounts registered for users aged 13-15 and reported on the videos that TikTok encouraged the users of these accounts to watch.
They write, “An analysis of the videos served to these accounts found that…TikTok can quickly drive minors…into endless spools of content about sex and drugs.” Every parent should take note of this brief summary of what these accounts of “minors” were exposed to:
TikTok served one account registered as a 13-yearold at least 569 videos about drug use, references to cocaine and meth addiction, and promotional videos for online sales of drug products and paraphernalia. Hundreds of similar videos appeared in the feeds of the Journal’s other minor accounts.
TikTok also showed the Journal’s teenage users more than 100 videos from accounts recommending paid pornography sites and sex shops. Thousands of others were from creators who labeled their content as for adults only.
Still others encouraged eating disorders and glorified alcohol, including depictions of drinking and driving and of drinking games.
The danger is not just exposure to the sinful content, but the app promotes obsession/addiction by often focusing the user’s attention on one thing. It is not hard to imagine a child who has never been exposed to pornography becoming addicted to it after spending a halfhour watching dozens of pornographic video clips— which can happen very easily on TikTok!
The article explains some of the efforts of TikTok to police the content fed to minors, but from what I read I am not convinced this is a high priority for the company. Additionally, given the amount of content that is constantly posted by users, effective policing by the company is well-nigh impossible. Parents cannot and must not believe someone else will protect their children for them while they are using TikTok or any other social media platform.
Maybe our children should not have social media accounts or even smart phones. I know that sounds radical today. But lately I have been struggling with whether it is foolish to let children and teens have access to apps with the evil that is accessible on apps like TikTok.
Think back to thirty years ago. There were no smart phones. The Internet was not yet public (it was made public April 30, 1993). What if in 1991 there was a book that everyone was reading; much of the content was good; some of it was neither good nor bad, but made for entertaining reading; and then other portions of the book were filled with vile content—nude pictures, drug use, and more. I cannot imagine my parents allowing me to have that book back then (when I was 13), instructing me to read only the good parts and to stay away from the sinful parts. They would not have bought the book for me. They would not have allowed me to buy the book. They would have forbidden me to have or to read such a book.
So how is it, I find myself asking, that today we allow our children to have phones with apps that admittedly have many good uses, but also have access to much more evil than any book published in 1991? I do not have a good answer to this question. But I do know that parents must be aware of the responsibilities they bear and the dangers their children face if they allow their children access to today’s technology.
1 https://thefederalist.com/2021/09/28/the-texas-heartbeat-act-issaving- 100-babies-lives-every-single-day. 2 Rob Barry, Georgia Wells, John West, Joanna Stern, and Jason French, “How TikTok Serves Up Sex and Drug Videos to Minors,” wsj.com.