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2 Texas counties implement ordinances to deter 'abortion trafficking'

The first ordinance was passed in Mitchell County in July. Another was passed in Goliad County just weeks ago.

HOUSTON — It has been illegal to get an abortion in Texas for more than a year, but since the law was passed, pregnant women from across the state still found ways to get the procedure done by traveling out of state.

In response, some Texas counties and cities created ordinances in hopes that they would stop pregnant women from traveling through their areas.

Two Texas counties have already passed ordinances prohibiting what the counties are calling "abortion trafficking."

The first ordinance was passed in Mitchell County in July. Another was passed in Goliad County just weeks ago.

"It shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly transport any individual for the purpose of providing or obtaining an elective abortion, regardless of where the elective abortion will occur. This section shall apply only if the transportation of such individual begins, ends or passes through the unincorporated area of Goliad County," the Goliad County ordinance said.

It means that if a person drives a pregnant woman through Goliad County with the purpose of getting an out-of-state abortion, the driver can be sued, not by the county, but by another citizen.

"They permit you to sue anyone who aids and abets someone crossing state lines in order to procure an abortion," University of Houston Professor of Law Seth Chandler said.

Chandler said there's one problem with the ordinances: interstate travel is a constitutional right.

"I suppose the sponsors of this ordinance feel that that is constitutional. They’re gravely mistaken. It is not constitutional to restrict interstate travel that way, nor is it constitutional to give anyone in the world the right to sue," Chandler said.

If someone is accused of breaking the ordinance, they could be sued and the unconstitutionality of it would be worked out in the courts.

"They’ve passed these ordinances because they hope that it will create enough of an intimidation that people will be afraid to help a loved one or a friend get the care that they need," Planned Parenthood Texas Votes Senior Advisor Wendy Davis said.

Davis is a former Texas Senator. She said she thinks the real purpose behind the ordinances is to create fear.

"You do have every right protected by our constitution to travel, to provide someone with the help that they need to get care that is legal in other states," Davis said. "I have no doubt that there will be other cities and counties that attempt to do this.”

Texas Right to Life, an anti-abortion rights group, is applauding the new rules and released this statement in response:

"Ever since the Texas Heartbeat Act and the overturn of Roe, we have seen the pro-abortion forces become more creative and innovative in their efforts to circumvent Pro-Life laws and promote abortion. Texas Right to Life fully supports and encourages cities and counties matching that level of creativity and innovation to uphold life-saving policies, protect women, and save innocent human lives," Texas Right to Life Director of Media and Communication Kimberlyn Schwartz said.

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