The Washington Post’s Caroline Kitchener has a very, very good deep-dive into the new push by conservative Texas towns to impose penalties on those who merely drive through their communities while traveling to get out-of-state abortion care.
Yep, it’s another conservative attempt to restrict residents’ interstate travel, something that Alabama is eyeing to do as well, because simply criminalizing abortion in their own states would never be good enough. The next step is to close down the borders to residents looking to get that same care anywhere else in America, and if that’s as brazenly unconstitutional as it sounds, well, let’s just wait to see what Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and his gang have to say after they get back from their next billionaire-funded yacht vacations.
Of special note is the map included in the Post’s story. It marks the counties where anti-abortion activists are interested in passing this sort of ordinance, and the counties largely trace U.S. Route 87 from San Antonio toward New Mexico, where abortion is legal. The ordinances, which have been enacted in two counties so far, follow the template of Texas’ anti-abortion “bounty hunter” laws, which allowed private citizens to sue those they suspected of being involved in an abortion. These new ordinances mean that a woman traveling alone to receive out-of-state care would not be targeted, but if there’s anyone else in the car—say, a driver partner for a woman doesn’t feel comfortable driving herself alone through hundreds of miles with a miscarrying fetus that could send her into septic shock—then those people could be sued by any local who prefers that woman die a noble death.
Even if Americans have the right to travel between states, that “right” doesn’t mean much if any theocrat can sue you for doing it.
Notably, the Post’s story is partly focused on an anti-abortion city council member in Llano, Texas, population 3,400 and containing at least one midtown Confederate monument. This city councilwoman read through the proposed ordinance and told her colleagues she had reservations about “overreaching.” In Llano and elsewhere, even the most conservative city officials aren’t necessarily as eager as anti-abortion zealots presume them to be. In Llano’s case, this city councilwoman admitted to once picking up a friend from an abortion clinic and didn’t seem too eager about criminalizing her past behavior.
There is one bit of the story that’s in there only for color, and it deserves quoting in full. Late in the story, the out-of-town anti-abortion activist who pushed the Llano ordinance sets out to take his idea to another town. He arrives in Mason, Texas, for his latest strategy meeting:
More than 20 people gathered around plates of pizza and pasta at a restaurant that doubles as a gun store. In the window, next to a sign for “fresh oysters,” someone had painted the message, “Let’s go, Brandon,” an insult aimed at President Biden. On one wall of the restaurant is a confederate flag taller than Dickson; above the bar, a flag for “Trump 2020.”
Maybe there’s just no other kind of restaurant in Mason, Texas. Maybe they’re all pizza-slash-gun stores run by sedition supporters. That sounds like a good follow-up story if anyone’s interested.
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