Culture Wars/Current Controversies

The Coming Post-Roe Court Fights Might Threaten The Right To Travel

Paul Blumenthal Huffington Post

Abortion opponents will try to restrict travel as state border crossing becomes necessary to obtain a legal abortion.

As abortion bans began to go into effect in more than 20 states following the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, people seeking abortion services in these states have begun to cross state lines to find places where abortion remains legal.

Clinics themselves — including the Jackson Women’s Health Clinic at the center of the Dobbs decision, which coincided with overturning Roe v. Wade last month — are also in the process of moving from states where abortion is illegal now, including Mississippi, North Dakota, Tennessee and Texas, into bordering or nearby states, such as Illinois, New Mexico and Minnesota, to continue to provide services.

While Dobbs ended one chapter in the legal battle over abortion rights and women’s autonomy, it opened a new and largely unexplored front over the right to interstate travel.

“It’s never been about state’s rights,” said Mary Ziegler, a law professor at the University of California, Davis, and an expert on abortion law. “The movement, from its inception, was about fetal personhood, which means that the movement thinks that all abortions are human rights violations.”

In March, Missouri state Rep. Mary Elizabeth Coleman (R) introduced the first bill in the country making it illegal for state residents to leave to get an abortion or for anyone to help them. “If you believe as I do that every person deserves dignity and respect and protection whether they’re born or unborn, then of course you want to protect your citizens, no matter where they are,” Coleman told Politico in March.

Coleman’s bill did not pass, but it is not a lone example.

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