On Thursday, the U.S. Department of Justice sided with two cases brought by healthcare groups and abortion activists in Alabama, protecting a woman’s ability to travel across state borders to have an abortion.
Lawyers for the Department of Justice claimed that individuals from states with tight abortion laws had a constitutional right to travel to a state where abortion is permitted.
Merrick Garland, the attorney general, issued a statement saying that bedrock constitutional principles mandate that women residing in jurisdictions with restricted access to complete reproductive healthcare must be allowed the freedom to seek such treatment in areas where it is permitted.
Legal action has been taken in Alabama to prevent the state from penalizing those who assist others in leaving the state to have an abortion. If abortion was illegal in Alabama, then those who helped pay for the trip might be prosecuted with conspiracy, according to Alabama’s attorney general, Steve Marshall.
When reached for comment, Marshall’s spokeswoman did not immediately provide one.
Although the Department of Justice is not a party to the pending litigation, it has filed a “statement of interest” in court in support of abortion rights activists.
Since the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated the national right to abortion last year, the Justice Department under President Joe Biden has challenged state anti-abortion laws it considers incompatible with federal law.
Garland has promised to defend the freedom to travel across state lines to access reproductive healthcare.
On Thursday, a U.S. court halted enforcement of an Idaho statute that would have made it illegal to assist a teenager in leaving the state to have an abortion without her parents’ permission.
Most states under Republican control have banned or severely restricted abortion since the Supreme Court overruled Roe v. Wade last year, erasing a federal right to abortion.
While voters in certain red states, such as Ohio, have enshrined abortion rights in their state constitutions, most blue states have taken some steps to safeguard access.
Despite a steep drop to almost zero in the 14 states where abortion is restricted throughout pregnancy, one poll finds that the average monthly number of abortions throughout the country has grown since the Dobbs case.