CALIFORNIA, USA — Republican lawmakers in Texas passed a law banning abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, which normally occurs at about six weeks into pregnancy. The Texas law allows private citizens to enforce the ban, empowering them to sue abortion clinics and anyone else who “aids and abets” with the procedure.
Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court allowed the Texas law to remain in effect while abortion clinics sue to block it. That decision incensed California Governor Gavin Newsom, a Democrat who supports abortion rights.
Gov. Newsom on Saturday pledged to empower private citizens to enforce a ban on the manufacture and sale of assault weapons in the state, citing the same authority claimed by conservative lawmakers in Texas to outlaw most abortions once a heartbeat is detected.
"The Texas law is structured in such a way that that it seems as though the state has passed a law that conflicts with a federal right," said McGeorge School of Law Associate Dean Mary-Beth Moylan.
"I think the likelihood that the legislature would look into passing a law, and that the attorney general's office would help draft such a law is probably good," Moylan said. "Whether or not the courts would treat the laws relating to guns in the same way that the court is treating the laws relating to abortion is a more difficult question."
Both Moylan and Legal Analyst Wendy Patrick said the Texas law opened a box of opportunities for other states.
"The Texas law might be a blueprint for red states," Patrick said, "but the court’s rationale might be a blueprint for blue states in terms of new laws allowing private citizens to bring certain types of lawsuits."
Moylan believes this will likely pass in California, but adds it will immediately be challenged and realistically end up at the U.S Supreme Court.
What she points out, and hopes isn’t the case, is that the conservative supermajority that is the Supreme Court might not treat the issues of abortion and gun rights the same.
"We want to have a court system that's impartial and that is treating all of the various types of rights in a similar way," Moylan said.
Newsom’s agenda upset gun rights activists. The National Rifle Association (NRA) shared on social media that this is little more than political theater and Americans won’t tolerate another assault on constitutional freedom.
As for who is on board with Newsom, the attorney general is one of them. Rob Bonta said he’s looking forward to working with the legislature and the governor on this.