It's been a while since I sent out a newsletter, but I'm back to bring you irregular updates on current scientific and historical discoveries, as well as my own work. Today, we've got a little bit of both.
The anniversary of 9/11, marking twenty years of the U.S. "war on terror," drowned out news of the latest salvo in another war -- the war on reproductive rights, whose kinetic force was felt keenly in Texas after the Supreme Court allowed a state law banning nearly all abortions to stand. What's unique about this law is that it essentially turns citizens into bounty hunters, allowing them to sue anyone who "aids" people seeking abortion more than six weeks after they've gotten pregnant. Successful suits will result in payouts of $10,000 or more. Essentially, Texas is creating a new army of mercenary surveillance troops, paid to spy on their neighbors' private medical procedures.
It's not the first time the struggle for reproductive rights has turned citizens into mercenaries. In my novel , I describe how the nineteenth century anti-birth control crusader Anthony Comstock perfected the "citizen's arrest" for obscenity. As Amy Werbel describes in her incredible book , Comstock and his followers dragged more than one woman into New York police stations in the middle of abortions. They also arrested people who published information about birth control and abortion -- many of those people, including , killed themselves rather than face long prison sentences. My characters, time travelers from the present and future, are fighting to bend the timeline toward reproductive justice. But how do you win against a force of anonymous mercenaries, emboldened by laws designed to undermine the autonomy of women and pregnant people?