Abortion travel bans? Banning pregnancy tests? Government pregnancy monitors? How far will it go?
With the Supreme Court poised to strike down Roe v. Wade, some Republicans have started to think about the next logical step in restricting abortion.
After all, a state ban on abortion only bans abortion in that state, right? What’s to prevent women from traveling to another state or country to obtain an abortion?
And while Mitch McConnell has stated that it’s possible that Republicans could pass a federal ban on abortion should they retake control of Congress, abortion appears to be set to remain legal in many states across the country for the near term.
Which has led small-government loving (cough) Republicans to ponder just how to allow the government to prevent women in their state from traveling to a different state or country to obtain an abortion.
But wait, abortion travel bans couldn’t be legal, could they?
According to a forthcoming paper in The Columbia Law Review the constitutionality of laws preventing one from traveling to another state to do something illegal in the home state is ambiguous, and relatively untested, as are the laws surrounding the ability to take action against people and entities residing outside of the home state. Thus, overturning Roe v. Wade opens “complex, interjurisdictional legal conflicts over abortion.” Recent articles including those in Bloomberg Law and The Guardian have pointed to travel bans as the next logical step for state lawmakers to restrict abortion.
But how exactly would that work? Let’s see…
Well, first off, the state government would need to know when women were pregnant so that they could then monitor them to ensure that they didn’t obtain an abortion -including obtaining abortion pills by mail. Seem crazy? Poland, which only just banned abortion in October of 2020, recently announced that it will start a government registry of pregnancies.
Right, but that’s Poland, it could never happen here. Oh wait, Missouri’s top health official testified in 2019 that they monitored the menstrual cycles of Planned Parenthood patients without their knowledge. Conveniently, here in the United States, state health officials are not subject to federal medical privacy laws. But state governments would still need to make sure that women came into a medical facility to obtain a pregnancy test, so that they’d have access to that data.
So obviously at-home pregnancy tests would need to be banned.
Further, one couldn’t just trust that women who might have missed a period wouldn’t just illegally travel out of state to obtain an abortion. There would need to be mandatory pregnancy testing centers at state borders, and women would need to show proof of a negative pregnancy test before boarding an airplane.
Of course, this gets expensive really fast and technology will soon allow pregnancy detection with a wearable. So passing legislation mandating that every woman of child-bearing age wears a pregnancy monitor would eliminate the need for pre-travel testing requirements.
Add in GPS so that the government (and let’s face it, one’s husband or boyfriend) can monitor a woman’s travel, and you’ve solved so many problems.