Abortion Access

In Texas, religious extremists have launched a new tactic in their war against legal abortion: limiting access to highways

  Rob Boston

When the U.S. Supreme Court overturned legal abortion last year, Americans United and other organizations warned that religious extremists would not stop there. These zealots are bound and determined to control Americans’ reproductive rights, and recent developments in Texas underscore how far they’re willing to go.

Several communities in the Lone Star State have passed or are considering measures that would make it illegal for people to use local roads to transport someone to get an abortion in another state, The Washington Post reported.

Extremists target highway use

“Antiabortion advocates behind the measure are targeting regions along interstates and in areas with airports, with the goal of blocking off the main arteries out of Texas and keeping pregnant women hemmed within the confines of their antiabortion state,” The Post reported. “These provisions have already passed in two counties and two cities, creating legal risk for those traveling on major highways including Interstate 20 and Route 84, which head toward New Mexico, where abortion remains legal and new clinics have opened to accommodate Texas women. Several more jurisdictions are expected to vote on the measure in the coming weeks.”

An anti-abortion extremist named Mark Lee Dickson has been crisscrossing the state, prodding local governments to pass the measure. Dickson says allowing women to leave for abortions elsewhere is “abortion trafficking.” Under his proposed law, a private citizen would have the right to sue anyone who used highways and roads to help someone procure an abortion. The laws may be of dubious legality, but one expert told The Post they are structured in a way that makes it difficult to get “standing” – the right to sue – to challenge them in court.

Sowing fear and confusion

Advocates of reproductive freedom say the point of the laws is to sow fear and confusion; Dickson and his allies hope to terrorize people to the extent that they’re afraid to exercise their rights.

Dickson told The Post, “This really is building a wall to stop abortion trafficking.” But there’s no such thing as abortion trafficking. It’s a term he made up. What Dickson is really trying to do is erect a wall to cut people off from their ability to make their own decisions about deeply personal matters. It’s a wall of imprisonment, inspired, built and reinforced with religious extremism.

The people of Texas need to learn that there’s another wall that can save them from the budding theocracy they are becoming: It’s the one that can – and indeed must – separate church from state.

P.S. If you need more evidence of the theocratic wave washing over some parts of America, consider this: Alabama’s attorney general has stated that the state has the power to prosecute anyone who helps a woman leave the state for an abortion in another part of the country.

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