Texas Abortion Policy Doesn’t Stay in Texas

The Lone Star State wants to restrict the right to travel to prevent people from getting abortion care—infringing on yet another constitutional right.

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The architects behind Texas' SB 8 drummed up a local ordinance that make it illegal to transport anyone to get an abortion on roads within city or county limits. Austen Risolvato/Rewire News Group

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Last week, the Washington Post reported about the newest line of political attacks on abortion access from anti-choice activists in Texas: roads and highways that connect abortion patients to potential out-of-state care.

Proposed by the same group of extremists that brought Texas’ abortion bounty hunter law that functionally overturned Roe v. Wade well before the Dobbs decision was handed down, advocates have targeted towns and cities on major roads or connection points to try and shut down any ability to travel for abortion care via local ordinances. These ordinances make it illegal to transport anyone to get an abortion on roads within the city or county limits, and, like its predecessor Texas’ SB 8, allows any private citizen to sue an individual or organization they suspect of violating the ordinance.

I mean, truly, what on Earth is going on here?

It’s an alarming escalation, and it’s an important reminder that while a lot of media attention will be focused on the Republican presidential candidates and their various and terrible positions on a national abortion ban, the real folks who set abortion policy in this country are advancing the most radical positions one town at a time. And it feels almost like ancient history at this point, but it’s worth repeating again that the Supreme Court let Texas’ SB 8 take effect via the shadow docket. The result devastated abortion access in the entire region in addition to setting the stage for Roe’s reversal the following year in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

What happens with abortion policy in Texas doesn’t stay in Texas. In fact, it informs abortion policy nationwide. So if Texas is seriously looking at ways to restrict the right to travel, as Idaho has already tried to do, then we can all be certain that the next constitutional right the conservative movement has its sights set on is the right to travel.

The Texas news also shows how overturning Roe v. Wade is unraveling an entire host of other constitutional rights like the right to travel. These fundamental rights are what define us as citizens, and if the conservative movement is using abortion to rewrite all of our fundamental rights, that means the conservative movement is using abortion to rewrite what it means to be a citizen in this country. Full stop.

This is a theme you’ll see us coming back to again and again at Rewire News Group because this project of rewriting citizenship is central to the anti choice movement. And they’ve fully weaponized the conservative legal movement to try and make it happen.