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Abortion law fights between states are a possible result of Roe’s removal: NPR

People gather at the Utah State Capitol on Tuesday to rally in favor of abortion rights in Salt Lake City.

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Abortion law fights between states are a possible result of Roe's removal: NPR

People gather at the Utah State Capitol on Tuesday to rally in favor of abortion rights in Salt Lake City.

George Frey/Getty Images

If the Supreme Court overturns Roe vs. Wade, abortion law may soon be in the hands of states. And if that happens, about two dozen states would have to ban or drastically reduce abortion.

Some lawmakers are also trying to limit patient options, even in states without such restrictions. Several weeks ago, for example, a Missouri state legislator introduced a bill that would allow private citizens to sue someone who helps a person cross state lines to seek health care. ‘abortion.

Such legislation raises a number of legal issues, says NYU law professor Melissa Murray. morning edition.

“The Supreme Court has suggested that sending this back to the states would settle this tense conflict over abortion…but it looks like it will only exacerbate existing conflicts and possibly create new conflicts that we haven’t seen yet. “, she says. .

Here are some of those battle lines (you can listen to the full interview here):

Can your state prohibit you from accessing care elsewhere? Individuals have “the right to travel” or move freely in various states. Murray says there are some limits, but the idea of ​​one state preventing someone from seeking treatment in another state — or “basically imposing its public policy on the other state” — goes beyond that. existing limits.

She adds that many people don’t realize that when the Supreme Court struck down the ban on interracial marriage in Love against Virginie in 1967, he also struck down a law that made it a crime for people to leave the state to “arrange an interracial marriage elsewhere.” Proposed laws like Missouri’s borrow a page from that same playbook, according to Murray, which begs the question: If another state offers a benefit your state doesn’t, can yours ban you from leaving? in order to seek this advantage, whether you plan to return?

What does it mean to help someone cross state borders? This could mean leading someone to an abortion in a more hospitable state, or even potentially donating money to an abortion fund that helps people do it. Murray says the latter could raise First Amendment issues regarding the prohibition of such assistance and, by extension, expression.

Some companies offer to cover the travel costs of employees wishing to have an abortion. Murray says it’s legal at the moment, but that could change if terms like the one in this bill interpret what it means to help someone very broadly. This could be seen as a violation of companies’ right to use their money as they see fit. Murray points out Citizens United v FEC and the idea that corporations can give money as an expression of speech — and says that, too, could become a First Amendment issue.

Would states be allowed to send and receive abortion drugs in the mail? Some states attempt to minimize access to abortion drugs, which Murray says raises questions in the area of ​​administrative law. While the Biden administration rolled back restrictions enacted by the Trump administration, Murray notes that individual states can take action through their own administrative agencies that regulate the distribution of pharmaceuticals within their borders. .

They could potentially limit the arrival of these types of pharmaceuticals from other states, she says. And it’s possible that a majority conservative Congress will pass a law banning the use of the couriers to distribute abortion drugs. This is reminiscent of the Comstock Act of 1873, which prohibited the Postal Service from forwarding items for “immoral” purposes.

This story originally appeared in the morning edition live blog.


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