Texas Right to Life
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|In the back alley|
Texas Right to Life is an anti-abortion lobbying group. It has been around in some form since the 1960s. For most of that history it has been roughly the same as right-to-life groups in other states, which is to say it was misogynistic and theocratic in a respectable-seeming way. Then in 2021 the group took a hard turn for the worse. Texas Right to Life tried to make use of the 2021 "bounty hunter" anti-abortion law by putting up a website to gather tips about women who had had abortions or anyone who aided such women in obtaining an abortion. The website was booted from several hosts because of how horrible it was.
Since Roe v. Wade in 1973, Texas Right to life has mainly fought legal abortion by supporting needless regulations intended to make abortion confusing and dangerous to access. For example in 1979 they supported a Texas state bill to outlaw abortions in hospitals, ensuring that more abortions would be performed in unsafe back-alley conditions. But the group wasn't very powerful in those days, at the height of the 1970s women's movement.
Their efforts got craftier over the years, culminating in the Texas Heartbeat Act of 2021. This essentially outlaws abortion, but in a tricky way: rather than be enforced by the state government, it invites private individuals to sue anyone involved in an abortion. It is an unprecedented misuse of the civil courts to accomplish something that they couldn't do within the normal criminal court system. The law waives normal protections against frivolous lawsuits, encouraging a free-for-all of confusing litigation and general nonsense.
To add fuel to this fire, Texas Right to Life created a 'whistleblower' website soliciting information about any abortions that took place in Texas (or even any made-up claims that one took place, which might be just as good in a world where the safeguards against frivolous lawsuits are gone). It was basically a form of doxing since the Constitutionality of the law has yet to be established. The whole internet got mad about this and started flooding the whistleblower website with hilarious fake information. Perhaps fearing the internet's fury, hosting company GoDaddy shut down the website. So they moved it to Epik, the hosting company of choice for the alt-right. After a short time, even Epik had second thoughts about facilitating doxing for bounty-hunting purposes, so the whistleblower website went offline, though Texas Right to Life's main site remains online.
Epik promptly got hacked by Anonymous, revealing the dirty laundry of various neo-Nazis as well as the Texas GOP. (Their laundry was mostly Brown Shirts and crazy-pants). It's not yet clear if Texas Right to Life data was released in the breach or not. Maybe their abject horribleness actually helped them, by getting them kicked off of a host that would have lost their data.
However, the dumb luck that protected them from Anonymous couldn't protect them from themselves. Texas Right to Life had a privacy breach of their own in September 2021, releasing thousands of resumes of people who had applied to work for them. Fine people.
Former Texas Right to Life political director Lucas "Luke" Bowen was charged with online solicitation of a minor (meaning younger than 17 in Texas) in 2022. Unfortunately, molesting children is pretty standard behavior for lobbyists who love to control others' sex lives.
- Controversy over abortion issue likely to intensify, by Anne Marie Kilday, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, May 21, 1979
- Anti-Abortion Whistleblowing Site Gets New Home With Provider Known for Hosting Right-Wing Extremists by Justin Rohrlich, The Daily Beast, September 4, 20201
- Texas Right to Life website exposed job applicants’ resumes by Zack Whittaker, Tech Crunch, September 7, 2021
- Top Texas Right to Life Staffer Arrested for Alleged Online Solicitation of a Minor by Simone Carter, August 25, 2022