Amicus brief argues Texas laws violate individuals’ constitutional right to interstate travel
OAKLAND – California Attorney General Rob Bonta today led a multistate coalition of 21 attorneys general in submitting an amicus brief in Fund Texas Choice v. Paxton to protect the right of individuals to travel out of Texas to obtain an abortion. The multistate amicus brief was submitted in support of a motion for preliminary injunction filed by reproductive rights advocates seeking to halt enforcement of several Texas anti-abortion laws. In the amicus brief, the coalition argues that Texas residents, as well as Californians temporarily in Texas for school, work, or vacation, have the right to travel to pro-reproductive rights states to access legal abortions.
“For over 150 years, the right to travel freely has been a fundamental liberty in the United States. Now, that right is under threat, as a result of extreme anti-abortion lawmakers like those in Texas — but California is pushing back,” said California Attorney General Bonta. “We will not let anti-choice states unlawfully infringe on people’s right to work, to provide care, to visit and move freely across state lines. Reproductive rights are fully protected in California, and we will use every tool in our toolbox to ensure that our state remains a safe haven for all those seeking reproductive care.”
The lawsuit was filed by Texas reproductive groups Fund Texas Choice, Jane’s Due Process, the Lilith Fund for Reproductive Equity, Clinic Access Support Network, the Afiya Center, West Fund, and OB-GYN Dr. Ghazaleh Moayedi. In the motion, Dr. Moayedi explains that she seeks to travel to provide abortion services in states where her medical services are legal, and the other plaintiffs seek to travel to support individuals in Texas who want to access reproductive care in states where it is legal. But they fear financial ruin or prosecution for traveling to assist individuals seeking legal abortion as a result of Texas’ anti-abortion laws.
In the amicus brief, the coalition asserts that an individual's constitutional right to interstate travel is at risk due to Texas' anti-abortion laws, and that interference with that right poses a substantial threat to the liberty and safety of those individuals, some who may need to exit Texas under urgent circumstances. Texas' anti-abortion laws not only deprive Texas residents from access to the reproductive care they need within Texas borders, but Texas lawmakers have indicated that they are also seeking to impede an individual’s ability to travel across state lines to obtain an abortion, to provide an abortion, or to support a patient in need of an abortion.
The attorneys general argue that while Texas may regulate abortion within its borders, intruding on the right to interstate travel, including for abortion, is unlawful. The coalition states have a strong interest in preserving the right to interstate travel. Thousands of the coalition states’ residents live in Texas to attend college, go to graduate school, or to serve as temporary workers; millions of others enter Texas as visitors each year. The coalition has a significant interest in ensuring that those residents may leave Texas and return to their home state to access time-sensitive, lawful, and safe medical care, including abortions.
The coalition also has a strong interest in preserving Texas providers’ right to travel to coalition states to provide abortion services or to accompany a patient in need of abortion care. As states that are committed to protecting access to reproductive healthcare, coalition states have a profound interest in preserving the right to travel for the millions of individuals living in states with restrictive abortion laws and for whom travel to seek abortions is critical. Texas’s anti-abortion laws — and Texas lawmakers’ threats to use those laws to restrict travel outside their state borders — pose a substantial threat to the liberty and safety of those individuals who may need to exit Texas to seek time-sensitive reproductive care.
In submitting the amicus brief, California Attorney General Bonta is joined by the attorney general of: Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Washington, and the District of Columbia.
A copy of the brief is available here.