Texas Says Making Women Travel for Abortions Boosts Commerce
(Bloomberg) -- Texas defended its new law banning most abortions as “stimulating” interstate commerce because it’s forcing women to travel to other states.
In a court filing on Wednesday, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton cited news reports of women driving hundreds of miles to Oklahoma and Kansas to seek abortions as proof that the law wasn’t interfering with interstate commerce. The Biden administration, which is suing to block the law, has cited its impact on interstate commerce as grounds for federal intervention.
The federal government doesn’t “cite any actual evidence that the Texas Heartbeat Act burdens interstate commerce,” Paxton said in the filing in federal court in Austin. “What evidence that does exist in the record suggests that, if anything, the Act is stimulating rather than obstructing interstate travel.”
He asked U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman to dismiss the Justice Department suit, which claimed the ban was burdening interstate commerce in insurance, banking and pharmaceutical services. The U.S. didn’t allege any obstructions of interstate travel.
‘Forced to Flee’
Pitman will hear oral arguments and could rule Friday on a U.S. request for an order putting the law on hold while the case proceeds.
Paxton’s surprising argument was slammed by opponents of the law, which prohibits abortions after the first six weeks -- before most women know they’re pregnant.
“As thousands of pregnant Texans seeking essential, time-sensitive medical care are forced to flee the state in desperation, Texas is now claiming its blatantly unconstitutional abortion ban has ‘stimulated’ interstate travel,” ACLU staff attorney Julia Kaye said in a statement. “It is appalling that Texas is trying to capitalize on the catastrophe anti-abortion politicians created.”
Paxton’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Justice Department attacks the Texas law as unconstitutional under Roe v. Wade but also says it could interfere with “insurance companies throughout the United States that cover abortion services provided in violation of the statute, as well as banks facilitating transfers of funds to reimburse women receiving restricted abortions.”
According to the complaint, the ban could also impact certain payments the federal government is required to make to Texas for constitutionally protected reproductive services.
The case is United States v. Texas, 21-cv-00796, U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas (Austin).
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