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More Fugitive Uterus Acts

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President Donald Trump and Amy Coney Barrett stand on the Blue Room Balcony after Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas administered the Constitutional Oath to her on the South Lawn of the White House White House in Washington, Monday, Oct. 26, 2020. Barrett was confirmed to be a Supreme Court justice by the Senate earlier in the evening. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Jessica Valenti reports on two more state proposals to criminalize helping people under 18 cross state lines to obtain an abortion:

We knew it was never going to stop with Idaho.

Tennessee Republican Rep. Jason Zachary introduced a travel ban yesterday—legislation that would make it a Class C felony to take a minor out-of-state for abortion care. That means a friend, aunt or grandmother who helps a teenager get an abortion could be sent to prison for 15 years. In Oklahoma, state Sen. Nathan Dahm introduced a similar bill that would punish anyone who helps a teen obtain care with up to 5 years in prison.

I want to be clear: When I say these laws target anyone who “helps” a teen get an abortion, I don’t just mean someone who physically takes them out of the state. You could be arrested for lending a teenager gas money, or texting them the url of an out-of-state clinic. That’s because both Tennessee’s HB1895 and Oklahoma’s SB1778 deliberately define ‘abortion trafficking’ as broadly as possible. Anyone who “recruits, harbors, or transports” a minor for the purpose of getting an abortion is guilty of ‘trafficking’.

Using the term “trafficking” to describe people who assist people to travel to jurisdictions where.their reproductive autonomy are protected is, like almost everything about the anti-abortion movement in the US, awesomely cynical, the intelligence-insulting being the whole point.

One of the intended chilling effects here, as Valenti points out, is on abortion funds:

This broad language isn’t just meant to scare off a teen’s friends and family from helping her; it’s about targeting abortion funds. Whether you’re talking about Idaho’s travel ban, the ordinances being passed in Texas counties, or the new proposed legislation in Tennessee and Oklahoma—all of these laws are about stopping funds from helping people, and making it possible to prosecute them.

As I wrote in my review of criminalization in 2023they’re going after the helpers.

And the Oklahoma bill follows Texas by allowing for civil suits:

Somehow, it gets worse: The travel ban proposed in Tennessee would also allow people to take civil action against anyone who breaks the law. And Elisabeth Smith, Director of State Policy & Advocacy for the Center for Reproductive Rights, tells me, “This language could be used to prosecute parents when custody is in question or allow one parent to sue the parent who helps a young person access abortion care.”

There have been many dumb ideas to become conventional wisdom among Savvy pundits, but the idea that overruling Roe would “lower the temperature” on the abortion issue is the kind of stupid that can arise only on the part of people who can’t see why they should care about the rights of people they don’t know and think it’s only about people they don’t know because they don’t understand why “some states ban abortion” is never going to be a stable equilibrium.

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