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Steve Chapman: States that want to ban residents from getting out-of-state abortions have a problem: Federalism – Chicago Tribune

Now may be the time to maximize your investments in airlines, rental car agencies, and intercity bus companies. Travel has resumed as the pandemic subsided, but the Supreme Court could give it an extra boost by revoking the constitutional right to abortion.

The pro-abortion Center for Reproductive Rights predicted that with the demise of Roe v. Wade, “abortion would remain legal in twenty-one states and would probably be banned in twenty-four states.”

Large swaths of the continent would become abortion-free zones – legal abortion-free, anyway. But Americans have been traveling to get what they want since the arrival of the Pilgrims, and women with unwanted pregnancies are no exception.

In the days before Roe, when the procedure was illegal in most of America, places like New York and Washington State had many visitors who did not come for recreation. About 40% of all abortions were performed on patients outside their country of origin.

Already, liberal states are a destination for desperate abortion seekers. Illinois, surrounded by states with heavily restricted access, saw nearly 10,000 women come from out of state for abortions in 2020, the Tribune reports. Planned Parenthood said that number could quadruple if Roe falls. We are on the verge of a wave of aborted refugees.

But anti-abortion advocates are unlikely to accept this outcome as inevitable. A bill was recently introduced in the Missouri legislature to ban residents from getting abortions out of state.

Republican Representative Mary Elizabeth Coleman told Politico: “If you believe like me that every person deserves dignity, respect and protection, whether born or unborn, then of course you want to protect your citizens, no matter where they are. are found.” Although his measure did not pass, it will no doubt inspire other states to enact their own bans.

That would be a radical step, but “radical” is an endearing term in the anti-abortion movement. However, that would be a terrible idea and contrary to our whole system of federalism.

One of our fundamental freedoms, long recognized by the Supreme Court, is the right to travel within the United States and to be treated as an equal citizen from coast to coast. A state government can no more interfere with the liberty of its residents who venture out of state than it can interfere with the liberty of out-of-state migrants.

In 1969, the court struck down a California law imposing a residency requirement for public assistance. He said the rule violated the right to travel and amounted to “unconstitutional discrimination that violates the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment.”

For a state to assert its power over citizens beyond its borders would be an act of extreme presumption. Decades ago, when Nevada was the only state with legal casinos, anyone could go there and gamble without fear of bluenoses at home.

The same limits apply today. Utah may ban recreational cannabis, but its residents can travel to Colorado to get high. California may ban the open carry of firearms, but that can’t stop Angelenos visiting Arizona from packing in public view.

As Seth Kreimer, a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania, has written, one of the basic tenets of American federalism is “that every citizen may enjoy the freedoms offered by any state.” This arrangement also contributes to our national civic peace by accommodating a diversity of policies.

Anti-abortion advocates may argue that their cause is different because it involves life or death. Not so. A New Yorker who kills a fellow New Yorker in Atlanta and is acquitted under Georgia’s “hold your ground” law cannot be convicted under New York’s less lenient laws.

Conservatives, who defend state sovereignty, should recognize that only one state can be sovereign within its borders. Otherwise, each state could extend its policies to the other 49 states.

The right should also be wary of giving progressives a new weapon. If a state can punish conduct that takes place in another state, Connecticut, which bans “assault weapons,” could jail a resident who uses one for target shooting in Maine. The possibilities for liberal mischief are endless.

If and when Roe’s enemies achieve their greatest victory, they will be tempted to seize every possible method to exploit that success. But even the long reach of the law needs limits.

Steve Chapman writes for Creators Syndicate. He can be reached at [email protected].

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