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Is it illegal to travel out of state for an abortion?

Is it illegal to travel out of state for an abortion?

Roughly half of all states have restricted or banned abortion in the wake of the fall of Roe. Republican gerrymandering and an aggressive legislative approach could soon drive that number even higher, leaving pregnant people in the crosshairs of political power games.

Abortion is healthcare. It is life-saving in some cases, often medically necessary, and should always be up to the pregnant person, who knows her body and her circumstances best. So what happens if your state bans abortion and you need to travel to another state? Is traveling to another state for an abortion a crime? No. Read on to learn more. 

Is it illegal to travel to another state for an abortion? 

The end of Roe returned control over abortion rights to the states. This means that each state gets to make its own laws–not laws that govern the lives of people living in other states. It is not illegal to travel to another state to have an abortion. 

While legislators have already signaled a willingness to make traveling for abortion illegal, actually doing so presents a number of concerns. It’s difficult, and perhaps impossible, to prove that someone traveled to have an abortion rather than merely opted to have an abortion while they were in another state for a different reason. It’s unlikely that you’ll face prosecution for traveling, but it’s wise to take proactive measures to protect your privacy in the event the law changes. 

Tips for seeking an abortion in another state 

While traveling to another state for an abortion is not illegal, there’s no way to predict the future. And the Supreme Court’s disregard for well-established precedent means they could affirm laws that once seemed impossible–like state laws governing the behavior of people in other states. 

For this reason, it’s wise to protect yourself if you do need to travel. These tips may offer some protection: 

  • Don’t tell anyone about your plans except for those who absolutely need to know. 
  • If anyone in your life opposes choice, do not tell them you’re pregnant. 
  • There’s no need to tell your doctor you’re traveling out of state for an abortion. 
  • Consider deleting period tracking and other apps that may document your pregnancy. 
  • Know that a doctor cannot tell the difference between an early abortion and an early miscarriage. If you have complications and need to seek follow up care, it may be better to tell the provider you had a miscarriage. 

Restrictive abortion laws could endanger the lives of up to 10% of pregnant people, tear families apart, and destroy futures. If you want to help people access desperately needed abortion care, consider donating to the National Network of Abortion Funds

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