Activists outraged by Texas abortion law are inundating ‘vigilante’ website with fake tips

Private citizens in state can now sue abortion providers and those deemed to be helping women access terminations and win $10,000

Graeme Massie
Los Angeles
Friday 03 September 2021 21:43 BST
Texas Republican tries to school teen over abortion ban tweet - and fails
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An anti-abortion “vigilante” website in Texas has been inundated with fake tips and spam since the state’s restrictive new bill became law this week.

The US Supreme Court’s conservative majority upheld the Texas abortion law, stripping women of the rights to one beyond six weeks in most cases in the second largest state in the country.

And the Texas Heartbeat Act even allows private citizens to sue abortion providers, or anyone they think is “aiding or abetting” the process, and can receive $10,000 if they win the case.

Anti-abortion group Right to Life set up in July, after the bill was first signed, which allows people to post anonymous enforcement tips.

Now online activists have been encouraging opponents of the law to flood it with fake tips and information.

Among them, The Yellowhammer Fund, which “provides financial assistance to those seeking abortion care in the State of Alabama”, posted a link to the site with the caption “what a shame it would be if people abused this tip line.”

Before the act became law, TikTok user Victoria Hammett told her 752,000 followers, “wouldn’t it be so awful if we sent in a bunch of fake tips and crashed the site.”

Her video went viral and has had more than 860,000 views.

TikTok user williamshaughn_ posted a video of him sending 11 images of “Shrek porn” to the site, which has had more than 1.2m views since it was posted on 21 August.

Earlier this week the Supreme Court’s right-wing majority, three of whom were appointed by Donald Trump, claimed it was not ruling on the issues in the case, but refused to block it from going into law.

Following the landmark Roe v Wade case the Supreme Court has consistently upheld the right of women to terminate pregnancies prior to the foetus being able to survive outside the wombs, which is generally between 22 and 24 weeks.

The new Texas law makes no exception for rape or incest, but there is an exception for medical emergencies.

Kimberlyn Schwartz, the director of media and communication at Texas Right to Life, confirmed to Spectrum News that the website had been hit by fake reports and bots trying to flood it.

The site is blocking fake submitters from making further reports.

“We’d like to thank all the folks on social media who posted about the site and brought attention to the site, including those who were encouraging the fake reports,” said Ms Schwartz.

The Independent has contacted Right to Life for comment.

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