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Local Ordinances Target Abortion Travel Aid in Texas

Abortion opponents in Texas are passing local ordinances that prevent people from helping those who want an abortion in traveling to nearby states that still allow abortions, the New York Times reports. Lubbock County, a conservative city of more than 300,000 residents near the New Mexico border, became the largest county yet to enact such a ban on Monday. The county commissioners court voted to make it illegal for anyone to transport a pregnant woman through the county, or pay for her travel, for the purpose of seeking an abortion. The county joined three other far smaller counties in passing ordinances that were drafted in part by the architect of Texas’s six-week abortion ban. The city of Amarillo held an hours-long public hearing Tuesday to consider a similar ordinance.

The ordinances have been drafted by Mark Lee Dickson, an anti-abortion activist, and Jonathan F. Mitchell, the former solicitor general of Texas who crafted the state’s 2021 abortion ban. They rely on the enforcement mechanism of lawsuits by private citizens. They specifically prohibit the police, sheriffs or other county officers or employees from enforcing the ban — a means of avoiding an immediate court challenge and possible injunction. However, there are legal concerns. “Even Justice Kavanaugh, in his concurring opinion in the Dobbs decision overruling Roe v. Wade, noted that a state would be violating the constitutional right to interstate travel if it sought to prohibit women from traveling out of state to seek a lawful abortion,” said Jeffrey B. Abramson, emeritus professor of government and law at the University of Texas at Austin.


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