Survivors deserve to be taken seriously and viewed as human beings worthy of respect and safety regardless of the clothes they wear—if they’ve been drinking, or if their heels happen to be pink. While I am realistic about how much change is possible, a new day has arrived in which taking the avenue of “but look at the pink high heels she was wearing that night” will put the accused in only greater jeopardy in the eyes of the court and the public.
Texas’s S.B. 8 empowers private citizens, giving them the right to sue anyone who “knowingly engages in conduct that aids or abets the performance or inducement of an abortion”—including attorneys like myself who represent survivors of sexual assault.
This attempt to tie the hands of attorneys and organizations that serve survivors is a gross overreach of the law that opens the door for attorneys to face civil action for giving advice to our clients and constitutes a breach of the attorney-client privilege that is critical to a healthy justice system. That is why, since S.B. 8 was enacted, I have continued to advise my clients and other women who call our office to help them find resources, even though it means I may face civil liability.
The harm done in Texas is far worse than people could even have envisioned: The near-total abortion ban has effectively stopped Texans from pursuing healthcare services to which they still have a legal right. It has virtually barred them from seeking information about abortion or obtaining appropriate care.
The value of human life in Texas is a complete mystery. A six-week fetus with a questionable heartbeat is more deserving of protection than a bystander killed by gunshot from a weapon whose owner is no longer required to be licensed. What a strange time this is to be a woman.
April may be Sexual Assault Awareness Month, but every month—indeed every day—should be a time of awareness of the scourge of sexual assault and the pain inflicted on its victims.
It’s time to improve the systems already in place and to enact legislation that gives survivors the support, protection and justice they deserve.
“Sexual abuse survivors have endured an exhausting journey only to learn now that their long-awaited day in court is postponed to an unknown date. I reassure my clients, as well as survivors everywhere, that there is a silver lining. This pause in the court system may ultimately make their cases stronger.”