Newsom’s ads against the red states’ abortion travel ban are not just a stunt

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Newsom’s ads against the red states’ abortion travel ban are not just a stunt

Op-ed, Abortion

LZ Granderson

February 27, 2024

When the Supreme Court ruled Roe vs. Wade in 2022, the issue of the abortion travel ban was addressed, and conservative Judge Brett


Kavanaugh was clear: They are unconstitutional.

That didn’t stop local travel bans from popping up in Texas less than a year later. Since then, Idaho has passed a law, and Oklahoma and Mississippi are debating the next step. Officials in Tennessee don’t just want to make it possible to have a minor aborted

a crime if a parent did not give permission

they also want to make it illegal to share information about other states’ abortion laws.

The clear Republicans feel comfortable ignoring Kavanaugh’s opinion on the constitutionality of the case, which is why California’s governor has decided that they don’t want to ignore Kavanaugh’s opinion on the constitutionality of the case. Gavin Newsom takes


the problem with voters in those conservative states.

This week, he announced an ad campaign aimed at red states, where lawmakers are debating whether to make out-of-state travel for reproductive care a crime. Normally I don’t like Newsom poking his nose into other states’ issues, given all of California’s problems, but he’s using his platform on the ground to sound the alarm on this issue. (He doesn’t use California taxpayer money; the ads are funded by a political action committee.)

As Kavanaugh noted, interstate travel is a constitutional right. I happen to believe, as many Supreme Court justices have in the past, that privacy is too. Newsom may occasionally target his conservative counterparts for political points, but this ad campaign isn’t all partisan. Someone has to stand up for the rights of Americans. Ask yourself: how much more government supervision do we want as a society? To enforce travel bans like the one Tennessee is proposing, authorities would have to keep track of things like where are you going? and for how long?

Our privacy has lost ground since the Patriot Act was passed. At the time, a fearful nation was driven by the horrors of September 11. Now it feels like we are in the midst of a devastating horror of our own making. It was bad enough when blind partisanship took over decisions about reproductive care; now states are trying to criminalize interstate travel.

We were so far beyond the theater of Newsom’s debate with the governor of Florida. Ron DeSantis. This time the spotlight is not on one governor’s ego, but on all our rights to privacy and interstate travel.

We have trapped enough Americans in our broken justice system.

Think about this: Nearly 250 people have been exonerated of wrongful convictions thanks to the work of the Innocence Project, a nonprofit organization that uses DNA to overturn convictions. That represents more than 3,600 collective years behind bars because our justice system has gotten it terribly wrong. Now think about the people the organization was unable to help. Think about the overworked public defenders trying their best. Think about human error.


is the legal system to which we want to send victims of rape and incest who may be or have been pregnant, who may have crossed state lines, who are suspected of receiving medical care while out of state or even


get care?

Even for a country accustomed to two decades of unconstitutional privacy violations since 9/11, these latest laws feel like a giant leap into a dystopian hellscape.

Are we now going to pretend that the Patriot Act created a new normal, and these state laws banning travel for health care go a step further? Did many Americans tolerate the Patriot Act because it took away our freedoms in the name of religious war? Will many allow more of our privacy to be taken away in this new religious war?

That’s what the legal battle over reproductive rights has always been. A battle of beliefs. There is a version of the faith that does not believe that a woman should have complete control over her body. That perverse belief system has inspired countless laws across the country for years, more and more of which have come into effect since the fall of Roe v. Wade. And now the men who dominate many state legislatures are not content with controlling what women can do within state lines; they are trying to control whether women can cross state lines for care.

So you can certainly roll your eyes or ignore Newsom the politician.

But don’t ignore his message on this issue.

Accounts disguised as parental rights are Trojan horses. Conservatives initially wanted to ban critical race theory from elementary school. Party leaders have never identified an elementary school that actually teaches CRT, but that has created fear, and that fear has led to the banning of books. Likewise, the flood of bills banning transgender athletes did not come from a flood of examples, just from fear. And that fear led to a proposal in Florida where young girls had to answer questions such as: how old were you when you got your first period? before exercising.

That is what fear-based legislation does to a society. It causes a frenzy. That’s how we became over-criminalized in the first place. And now an over-policed, over-jailed society has officials in red states thinking about criminalizing interstate travel.

So Newsom may not be the voice Republicans want to hear on this issue, but that doesn’t mean what he’s saying is wrong.



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