Columns, Not to Get Political But, Opinion

Gavin Newsom is right: Traveling for abortions is not ‘trafficking’ | Not to Get Political But

California Gov. Gavin Newsom debuted the first in a series of campaign ads on Sunday that accuse conservative legislators who impose restrictions on travel for reproductive care of holding women hostage.

The ad, called “Hostage,” first aired on NBC’s “Meet the Press” and is set to air in Tennessee, where State Rep. Jason Zachary introduced a bill trying to outlaw what he called “abortion trafficking.”

Annika Morris | Senior Graphic Artist

Zachary’s legislation would establish a Class C felony for an adult that “‘recruits, harbors or transports’ a pregnant minor for the purposes of receiving an out-of-state abortion or for getting abortion medication,” according to the Tennessean.

This felony could carry up to 15 years in prison — all for helping a scared minor carry out their decision to get rid of something that would completely alter their future.

Tennessee isn’t the only state trying to ban the ability to travel out-of-state for abortion care. Alabama and Oklahoma are considering similar bills — and none of the three states take into consideration cases of incest or abuse.

“These are states that basically want to imprison women and young girls,” Newsom’s “Campaign for Democracy” website reads. “It’s a backdoor nationwide abortion ban, denying women the opportunity to go to a freedom state.”

I’m glad to see that Newsom is going after red states and advocating for the “right to travel.” Besides, the idea of going out-of-state to get an abortion as “trafficking” is, quite frankly, stupid.

Even more so, it’s purely unconstitutional. 

Article IV of the United States Constitution contains the “full faith and credit” clause, which states that state courts must respect the laws and judgments of courts from other states. 

So, if someone goes to get an abortion in a state where it’s legal, Tennessee, Alabama and Oklahoma need to bite their tongues and respect it.

Massachusetts was the first state to legalize same-sex marriage in 2003, and many out-of-state couples came to the state to take advantage of the rights granted to them in our state. States where same-sex marriage was still illegal had to recognize and validate the Massachusetts marriage licenses of queer couples.

So, in the same vein, why shouldn’t traveling to get an abortion where it’s legal be validated — or at least not criminalized — by these states? 

Conservatives may not like my gay marriage example, but hopefully I can shed some light on their own hypocrisies in one way or another regarding the “right to travel.”

The legal drinking age in the U.S. is 21, but the minimum age in Europe, for example, is 18. If you traveled to Europe when you were 18-20 years old, I bet there’s a good chance you drank alcohol, assuming you don’t observe any religious or cultural practices that prohibit it. I also bet your parents or conservative relatives did at your age, too.

Is the U.S. government sounding the alarm over the Aperol spritz you drank in Italy with your family that summer? No. 

Drinking isn’t your thing? Well, what if you’re a 21-year-old from Pennsylvania who can’t smoke marijuana at home because you don’t have a medical card, but you go to college in Boston, Mass., where recreational marijuana is legal for adults ages 21 or older?

Are Pennsylvania cops going to cruise their way into Boston and handcuff you after a quick Dunkin’ run? No.

Or, how about something I know conservatives love: their good ol’ fashioned Fourth of July barbecues. Don’t you want some cool fireworks to show off your patriotism on the birthday of the country?

If you lived in North Carolina, for example, only non-aerial and non-explosive fireworks are permitted. However, what if you celebrated the holiday at your relatives’ house in Florida, where most consumer fireworks are allowed, and purchased some there? 

Will there be a warrant out for your arrest back home? No.

People take the opportunity to do things they can’t at home through travel, from groundbreaking opportunities like same-sex marriage to trivial indulgences like alcohol, weed and Fourth of July fireworks. 

It’s legal there — so why should our governments back home care so much? They have their own issues to worry about.

Therefore, why should the case of out-of-state abortions be any different?

“Abortion trafficking” is a term meant to sensationalize and vilify adults who help pregnant women and girls get abortions. Meanwhile, the “right to travel” has always coexisted with the “full faith and credit” clause of the Constitution.

Newsom’s ads are right: these laws hold women wanting abortions hostage, prohibiting them from leaving their state unless the unborn children they do not wish to — or simply cannot afford to raise — return in their wombs with them.

I hope some lawmakers with common sense see these ads and reflect on their own tendencies to partake in certain vices where it’s legal when they travel.

Maybe then, they’ll look at women and young girls whose “vices” are a need, not a want, and endow “full faith and credit” towards the reproductive care they leap through hoops and out of state to obtain.

More Articles

Comments are closed.