University of Miami Law Review


On September 1, 2021, the Texas Legislature enacted the Texas Heartbeat Act, an anti-abortion statute popularly known as Senate Bill 8 (“S.B. 8”). Although many states passed anti-abortion legislation in 2021, S.B. 8 received national attention due to the law’s unusual enforcement mechanism: S.B. 8 empowers private citizens, not state actors, to sue individuals who perform or aid in the performance of an abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected.

Unsurprisingly, the authors of S.B. 8 received extreme back- lash from the public, and many academics and legal scholars viewed the law’s private enforcement mechanism as an effort to evade judicial review under then-recognized precedent Roe v. Wade. In an effort to defend S.B. 8’s strategic statutory structure, the law’s authors compared S.B. 8’s private enforcement provision to similar provisions found in qui tam and environmental protection statutes. This Note discusses the rationales behind private citizen enforcement pro- visions in qui tam and environmental protection statutes and analyzes why these rationales are not applicable in the abortion context.