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Texas activists seek 'trafficking' laws to halt abortion travel

Ordinances that would prohibit driving through a city or county for the purpose of obtaining an abortion are being proposed in several Texas towns.
Texas activists seek 'trafficking' laws to halt abortion travel
Posted at 12:46 PM, Sep 07, 2023

Anti-abortion activists are exploring "abortion trafficking" as a means to create laws that would make it illegal to transport someone on specific roads to get an abortion.

Proposed new laws that would prohibit driving through the city or county for the sole purpose of obtaining an abortion are currently under consideration in some towns in central Texas.

Llano, a town in Texas Hill Country with over 3,300 residents, discussed such a measure in late August, as the Washington Post first reported. They aimed to stop individuals traveling from Austin and Round Rock from using their highways to reach states where abortion services are available, such as New Mexico.

"This really is building a wall to stop abortion trafficking," Right to Life East Texas Director Mark Lee Dickson, an anti-abortion activist behind the effort, told the Post. Accusing those who travel out of Texas to obtain abortions as traffickers because "the unborn child is always taken against their will."

During a town hall, Dickson told Llano residents that a "baby murdering cartel" was targeting pregnant women in Central Texas and taking them "by trains, planes and automobiles," the Washington Post reported. "I say we end abortion trafficking in the state of Texas," said Dickson.

SEE MORE: State of abortion laws: A year after Roe v. Wade overturned

Four out of the five members of the Llano City Council voted to postpone the ordinance to a later date.

Dickson informed Scripps News that a 71 political subdivisions across the U.S. have passed "Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn" initiative ordinances, 52 of which are in Texas.

Dickson, along with attorney Jonathan Mitchell, the former Texas solicitor general responsible for authoring the "heartbeat" bill that played a key role in the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Dickson noted that the ordinances that specifically prohibit "abortion trafficking" have passed in the cities of Odessa, Little River-Academy, as well as Mitchell and Goliad Counties.

Weeks before the Llano vote, Chandler, with a population of about 3,400 people, delayed passing a similar ordinance due to worries about legal consequences for the town and potential conflicts with Texas laws. 

Mason and Lubbock are among the counties expected to consider similar measures, according to the Washington Post. 

Performing an abortion is now a first-degree felony in the state following the Supreme Court’s overturn of Roe v. Wade last year. There are no exceptions for rape or incest, and people can sue providers or anyone assisting patients seeking an abortion after about six weeks of pregnancy.

Editor's Note: This story has been updated to reflect the accurate amount of cities and counties that have passed the "Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn" ordinance and clarifies which jurisdiction have specifically prohibited "abortion trafficking"

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