One of the many preposterous claims coming from supporters of the vicious new Texas law against abortion is that bounty hunters — standing to gain a $10,000 reward from the state — will somehow be “whistleblowers.” The largest anti-abortion group in Texas is trying to attach the virtuous “whistleblower” label to predators who’ll file lawsuits against abortion providers and anyone who “aids or abets” a woman getting an abortion.
As a journalist and activist, I’ve worked with a range of genuine whistleblowers during the last several decades. Coming from diverse backgrounds, they ended up tangling with institutions ranging from the Pentagon and CIA to the National Security Agency and the Veterans Administration. Their personalities and outlooks varied greatly, but none of them were bullies. None of them wanted to threaten or harm powerless people in distress. On the contrary, the point of the whistleblowing was to hold powerful institutions accountable for violations of human rights.
What the Texas vigilantes will be seeking to do is quite the opposite. The targets will be women who want abortions as well as their allies — people under duress — with pursuers seeing a bullseye on their backs.
The whistleblowers I’ve known have all taken huge risks. Most lost their jobs. Many endured all-out prosecutions on bogus charges, like violating the Espionage Act for the “crime” of informing the public with vital information. Some went to prison. Almost all suffered large — often massive — losses that wrecked their personal finances.