Americans United for Life

The latest anti-choice trick: Letting “ordinary Americans” sue clinics to enforce abortion restrictions

Americans United for LifeAmericans United for Life is the ALEC of the anti-choice movement.

Every year, the DC-based group releases a handbook filled with model legislation that abortion foes in state legislatures across the country can use to draft their own bills. It’s no coincidence that so many of the hundreds of anti-choice state laws passed in recent years–from ultrasound bills to telemedicine abortion bans–have been so similar. Often they were inspired by AUL’s models–sometimes even copied verbatim. In 2011, for example, AUL could take credit for 24 of the 92 anti-abortion restrictions passed in the states.

And now AUL is adding another trick to its handbook. The 2014 edition will include proposals to let third parties, such as patients and their families, sue clinics to enforce anti-choice laws. Bloomberg reports:

“All the work in getting pro-life legislation passed can be lost if there are no tools for enforcing them,” Yoest said by e-mail. “The enforcement module, for the first time, equips ordinary Americans to file a complaint, and expands the potential for people in their own communities — in addition to state attorney generals or other legal office holders — to hold the abortion industry accountable.”

As Planned Parenthood writes on Facebook, “This is yet another attempt to take attention and resources away from providing health care to women, and forces providers instead to defend against onerous and medically unnecessary regulations.” It’s also totally in line with AUL’s strategy, which has always been a two-pronged one: place so many restrictions on the procedure that abortion is all but impossible to access, while ultimately aiming for a court challenge that would take a direct shot at Roe v. Wade.

Maya DusenberyMaya Dusenbery is an Executive Director of Feministing.

St. Paul, MN

Maya Dusenbery is executive director in charge of editorial at Feministing. She is the author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick (HarperOne, March 2018). She has been a fellow at Mother Jones magazine and a columnist at Pacific Standard magazine. Her work has appeared in publications like,, Bitch Magazine, as well as the anthology The Feminist Utopia Project. Before become a full-time journalist, she worked at the National Institute for Reproductive Health. A Minnesota native, she received her B.A. from Carleton College in 2008. After living in Brooklyn, Oakland, and Atlanta, she is currently based in the Twin Cities.

Maya Dusenbery is an executive director of Feministing and author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm on sexism in medicine.

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