Unrecognizable pregnant caucasian woman with luggage.

Texas Republicans Are Outlawing Use of Their Roads To Get an Abortion in Other States

Abortion is illegal in Texas, but they can’t yet prosecute people who seek them elsewhere, which is why four Texas counties have made it illegal to use their roads to transport someone to get an abortion instead.

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This completely ridiculous law sadly isn’t as unworkable as it sounds. Like Texas’ previous “bounty hunter” anti-abortion law, where private citizens could sue anyone who helped a pregnant person seek an abortion, this law only targets people who assist an abortion seeker on their travels, rather than the pregnant person themselves. And like the “bounty hunter” law, it relies on private citizens turning people in, because nothing says “land of the free” like encouraging people to spy on and report on their neighbors.

Though there are questions as to how enforceable this law actually is (Does the helper have to know the purpose of travel to be culpable? What if they only took them part of the way? Does it count if they were actually going there for some other reason and then got an abortion, you know, while they’re in the area?), its primary purpose seems largely to be intimidation, and the creation of a hostile environment for Texas’ abortion seekers, just like its predecessor. After all, if you can face legal trouble for so much as giving a friend a lift across a state border or lending them gas money, then fewer people are going to be willing to step up and help abortion seekers reach the care they need, leaving them more isolated than ever—which is, of course, the point.

Of particular concern is the fact that Lubbock county, the most recent to adopt this ordinance, borders New Mexico—a state with some of the most liberal abortion laws remaining in the United States, and through which many Texan abortion seekers have had to travel to get the care they need. Lubbock joining the ranks of Mitchell, Goliad, and Cochran is accordingly going to have a much bigger impact on those Texans who have to travel to get the abortions they need than its predecessors did.

Anti-abortion activists are ecstatic about these new laws, hoping to implement them across the country as part of their campaign to eliminate (safe) abortion. Their successful passage in Texas means we’re likely to see attempts to implement similar laws in other states with abortion laws already similar to those in Texas. Whether anyone will end up in court over it remains to be seen, but these laws are another loss in ensuring reproductive freedom for Americans.

(featured image: Olga Smolina/Getty Images)


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Author
Siobhan Ball
Siobhan Ball (she/her) is a contributing writer covering news, queer stuff, politics and Star Wars. A former historian and archivist, she made her first forays into journalism by writing a number of queer history articles c. 2016 and things spiralled from there. When she's not working she's still writing, with several novels and a book on Irish myth on the go, as well as developing her skills as a jeweller.