More than a year ago, anti-abortion activists appeared eager to prohibit anyone seeking an abortion in a state where it is banned from traveling to another state where it is legal. Many lawmakers appeared so eager to enact such travel bans that Justice Brett Kavanaugh attempted to cut off these laws before they could be enacted, Vox reports. “May a State bar a resident of that State from traveling to another State to obtain an abortion?” Kavanaugh asked in his concurring opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, the decision overruling Roe v. Wade. “In my view, the answer is no,” Kavanaugh replied to his own question, “based on the constitutional right to interstate travel.” The Constitution has long been understood to allow U.S. citizens to travel among the states.
For the most part, state and local lawmakers have not tested whether Kavanaugh would hold to this view if a travel ban actually became law. A few jurisdictions in Texas are now breaking with this consensus. Two Texas counties and two Texas cities have passed local ordinances making it illegal to transport someone through one of these counties or cities for the purpose of obtaining an out-of-state abortion. Notably, this list of anti-abortion localities includes Mitchell County, Tex., a sparse community of about 9,000 people. This matters because Interstate 20, the route that many people traveling from Dallas to New Mexico to receive an abortion will take, passes through Mitchell County. Other counties with major highways or airports are considering similar laws.