Anti-Abortion Laws Blocking Out-of-State Travel Are Popping Up Across Texas
Planned Parenthood says it creates “prisoners of the state”
By Lina Fisher,
12:18PM, Mon. Sep. 18, 2023
Travel restrictions have begun popping up around Texas, as anti-abortion activists attempt to block Texans from receiving legal abortions outside the state.
Last week, the city of Chandler and Mason County both introduced ordinances that would intimidate those attempting to use city or county roads to leave the state for an abortion, but they failed amid concerns about legal ramifications. However, Mitchell and Goliad counties have already passed similar ordinances, and the city of Llano introduced another that has since been temporarily tabled. Interstate 20 runs through Mitchell County on the way from Dallas toward New Mexico, and Llano sits at the crossroads of Highways 29 and 71, which Austinites would take to New Mexico.
The ordinances – which Planned Parenthood Texas Votes contends are blatantly unconstitutional – use a similar vigilante enforcement system as SB 8, which allows citizens to sue people violating the ordinance.
Wendy Davis, senior advisor at PPTV, said in a press release this week that the laws “foster even greater fear, intimidation, and confusion among people traveling for abortion and reproductive health care. … By attempting to restrict travel, Texas seeks to make pregnant people prisoners of the state, isolate them from support, and force them to give birth no matter what.” Lilith Fund told the Washington Post that the purpose of the laws is not enforcement but intimidation.
If such ordinances are contested and go to the Supreme Court, it’s unlikely they would be upheld – Vox notes that even Brett Kavanaugh, during hearings on Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, said he would protect the constitutional right to interstate travel. But in the suit that decided SB 8’s constitutionality, Whole Woman’s Health v. Jackson, the Supreme Court allowed bounty hunters to enforce laws. And other states have already found ways to work around the constitution – in April, Idaho made it a crime to help a minor obtain an abortion, including by traveling across state lines. That law is the subject of a Planned Parenthood suit, which should be decided within the next few weeks.