Some states that ban abortions may want to keep women from traveling out of state to obtain one — you know, sorta like the way the Communists try to dictate where you can travel within your own country for whatever reason.
It’s an un-American proposal. But that isn’t stopping some state legislatures from considering it.
A state cannot bar a resident from traveling to another state to obtain an abortion because people have a constitutional right to interstate travel. Neither can a state retroactively impose punishment on a woman who travels out of state to obtain an abortion where it is legal and then travels back home where it isn’t. They can’t charge her with a crime, even though murder or conspiracy to murder has been suggested.
It’s not as far-fetched as you might think.
Rachel Rebouche, interim dean at Temple University’s Law School, said that Dobbs now clears the way for states to restrict out-of-state abortion because “any travel ban would be premised on the idea that a state can ban abortion.”
However, Rebouche added that the path to pass a law that outright criminalizes out-of-state abortions is an uphill battle because such a law would likely face several legal hurdles.
“It may be currently a little premature to enact straight-out bans right away,” she said.
Any state that tries to do so would almost certainly run into federal opposition.
Missouri has been trying to pass legislation for years that would allow anyone to sue those who either received an abortion or assisted in providing one. This includes doctors from out-of-state.
Many legal experts say this would open a can of worms.
Legal scholars say the Missouri proposal opens a Pandora’s box that could force courts to contend with questions that date to the Fugitive Slave Act two centuries ago.
“There’s no clear precedent saying that states can’t try to regulate out-of-state conduct if it has some effect in-state or if it [involves]one of their citizens,” said David Cohen, a professor of law at Drexel University’s Kline School of Law and co-author of a forthcoming paper in the Columbia Law Review on impending interstate conflicts in abortion law. “What these laws are doing is saying, ‘We have a different understanding of how America works, and that understanding is that if you live in this state, we control you everywhere you are.’”
There are other ways a state could “discourage” women from traveling for an abortion. A state could use current law that defines a fetus as a human being to charge women with murder and conspiracy to murder if they travel out of state for an abortion.
Yes, it’s a mess — just as the founders envisioned issues like this would be. In division, there was hope that unity could be found. It worked pretty well — until the states could no longer ignore the issue of slavery.
But abortion isn’t slavery. Eventually, the states will learn to live with their choices. Whether or not that leads to “peace” is anyone’s guess.