On Monday, the ACLU sued Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall on behalf of the West Alabama Women’s Center and the Alabama Women’s Center, both providers of women’s medical care and support. They sued because Alabama is trying to extend its state abortion ban beyond its borders by making it illegal for people to help Alabamians access abortion in states where it remains legal.
You’ll recall the underlying premise of the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs, when it upset 50 years of abortion rights. The Court said the decision about whether – and to what extent – abortion should be legal would be left up to each state. Post-Dobbs, some states have continued to permit women to make their own medical decisions, while others have imposed bans, some near-total. But even a near-total ban is not enough for Alabama, where the Attorney General has announced his intention of trotting out a never-used 1896 conspiracy provision to criminally prosecute those who assist individuals who want to travel across states lines – something we are all free, as Americans, to do – in order to obtain legal abortion care outside of Alabama.
This is the next frontier in expanding newly-permissible state bans on abortion care. The courts will have to decide whether the Supreme Court meant it when it said abortion was an issue for each state to decide for its residents. Because now that conservative states have expanded abortion bans as far as they can within their borders, the push to extend them beyond their borders is on, in lieu of a highly unpopular national ban. This is the next fight.