Now that the Supreme Court has voted to overturn Roe v. Wade, more than a dozen states over the next month are expected to begin enforcing partial or near-total bans on abortion within their borders. But some abortion opponents have proposed going even further — stopping women from their states from traveling to another where abortion is legal for the procedure.
The topic, little noticed in the immediate wake of the ruling, has surged to the forefront in recent days. On Friday, President Biden reiterated in a meeting with Democratic governors that the federal government will protect women who leave their home states for an abortion.
Antiabortion groups and state legislators have discussed ways to restrict interstate travel for abortion, according to a Washington Post report. Governor Kristi Noem of South Dakota, which now bans abortion in almost all cases, said there “will be a debate” about how to handle cases of South Dakota women traveling out of state for the procedure.
Abortion rights supporters have long decried proposed travel restrictions as unconstitutional overreach. Now they may have an unlikely ally: conservative Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who sided with the majority in eliminating the constitutional right to abortion.
In his concurring opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health issued June 24, Kavanaugh seemed to tip his hand on the issue of traveling across state borders.
“Some of the . . . abortion-related legal questions raised by today’s decision,” he wrote, “are not especially difficult as a constitutional matter. For example, may a State bar a resident of that State from traveling to another State to obtain an abortion? In my view, the answer is no based on the constitutional right to interstate travel.”
Those three lines, buried within his 12-page opinion, have sparked a debate. Some liberal legal scholars believe he may be choosing his words carefully, staking out a narrow position on policies overtly restricting pregnant women’s freedom of movement. Some conservatives think he may be gesturing at a more expansive discomfort with the extension of abortion bans beyond state borders.
Will Roe decision lead to interstate travel bans? – The Boston GlobeWill Roe decision lead to interstate travel bans? – The Boston Globe