If you are a woman who is seeking abortion services across state lines in the wake of Roe v. Wade being overturned by the Supreme Court, Republicans want to control your movement through restriction or criminalization.
The conservative judges on the high court stripped millions of women of their reproductive rights and freedom across the country, with trigger laws in red states automatically banning the necessary medical procedure, even in cases of rape, incest, and life-threatening situations. Outrage has ensued since the ruling, with a prominent historian warning that it pushes the nation toward a second civil war.
Women who live in states that have abortion bans on the books are now forced to seek abortion care in other states where it is legal and safe such as California, Illinois, and New York among others. It will be a long drive for some and will certainly add to the burden. But there is help and support for women seeking care.
However, now that Republicans have managed to overturn Roe, they are looking to ban abortion nationally. For now, that won’t happen because Democrats will control the White House even if the GOP takes over Congress in November. In the meantime, Republicans are focusing on restricting or criminalizing travel to other states for abortion services.
Seriously. Missouri Republicans are literally pushing a proposal that would allow citizens to sue anyone who helps a woman obtain an abortion out-of-state. So, if a woman receives help traveling to Illinois for care, a random stranger can sue anyone who helped her even though the procedure is legal in Illinois.
Missouri GOP state Rep. Mary Coleman argued in favor of the legislation in remarks to Politico just this past March.
“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 said. “If a Missouri resident is hurt, even in Illinois, by a product that they bought in Illinois, there is still jurisdiction for them to sue in a Missouri court because that’s home for them … and this is extending that same kind of thought to abortion jurisprudence.”
Except that we’re talking about a Missouri resident doing something legal in another state. It would be like letting citizens sue their neighbors for going to Nevada to engage in legal prostitution. You can’t punish citizens for doing something legal in one state just because the same activity is illegal in your state. It’s a violation of the full faith and credit clause. Anything a person does in Illinois is under the jurisdiction of Illinois, not Missouri.
What laws like this aim to do is intimidate or scare women from seeking out-of-state care. It aims to restrict the movement and travel of women across state lines, basically turning the state into a prison.
And let’s not think that Republicans won’t start barring women from leaving the state. They are already taking their rights away. Freedom of movement is clearly a target. There could one day be a scenario in which women are pulled over by police or stopped at a border checkpoint and forced to take a pregnancy test to determine if they can be allowed to continue traveling.
Americans need to fight back against these authoritarian tactics. These laws are clearly unconstitutional but the Supreme Court is not bothering to strike them down. Texas has a law allowing citizens to act as bounty hunters who can sue anyone who helps a woman obtain an abortion in the state. Republicans clearly do not care about the Constitution and they certainly do not care about women’s rights. They only care about controlling women and oppressing them. They must be stopped by any means necessary at any cost.
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