The Disturbing Reality of Texas’ “Use of Road” Abortion Bans

Despite the fact that Texans have not had access to abortion in their home state for two years, anti-abortion extremists are still relentlessly persistent in their crusade to invade Texans’ privacy and scare Texans away from seeking or supporting abortion care. Instead of feeling satisfied with stripping health care access from millions of Texans, the cruel masterminds behind SB 8 and other Texas abortion bans have been traveling all over the state to pitch anti-abortion ordinances that continue to establish the anti-abortion framework of surveillance, investigation, harassment, and criminalization of Texans seeking abortion care and those who help them.

The latest strategy of anti-abortion extremists has been to help local city and county governments pass highly unlikely unconstitutional ordinances (city/local laws) that allow any  person to sue someone they suspect of helping an abortion seeker that drives through the city or county while traveling for an out-of-state abortion. These ordinances have passed in Mitchell, Goliad, Cochran and, most recently,, Lubbock County. These ordinances are being drafted and pitched to local governments by Mark Lee Dickson and Jonathan Mitchell, the anti-abortion extremists behind Texas abortion bans, despicable “sanctuary city for the unborn ordinances,” harassing litigation against abortion and practical support funds, and the legal representation for an abusive husband attempting to sue his wife’s friends for allegedly helping her procure an abortion.

These cruel and repressive ordinances have not passed everywhere they’ve been proposed, and even those who have voted for these ordinances in various communities have expressed concerns over the ultimate enforceability of these laws. Once again, anti-abortion extremists are relying on scare tactics, such as threats of legal action, surveillance, and harassment, to intimidate people seeking care and those who help them even if the actions they are proposing are likely unconstitutional.

We exist and were founded in response to an anti-abortion law, so we know firsthand how faranti-abortion extremists are willing to go in trying to stop people from seeking medical care. We have helped Texans travel for their abortions for a decade, and we will continue to help abortion seekers in every legal way possible. At this moment, our primary concern is letting Texans know they can still receive help from abortion funds when traveling out of state for abortion care – abortion care that Texans should be able to access in their own state. Everyone, no matter where they live, deserves access to reproductive freedom and the ability to make decisions about their own bodies and lives

Anti-abortion extremists are relentless in their strategies to harass abortion seekers, abortion and practical support funds, and anyone who helps someone obtain an abortion. The proponents of these ordinances use dangerous and deceptive language like “abortion trafficking” to co-opt legitimate concerns such as trafficking in an attempt to frame the act of aiding abortion seekers as coercive and deplorable, rather than empathetic and compassionate. At the same time, the architects of these ordinances intend to encourage people to control, threaten, and harass people seeking care: the author told the Washington Post that “a husband who doesn’t want his wife to get an abortion could threaten to sue the friend who offers to drive her.” It is unconscionable that anyone would want to sanction investigations, reproductive coercion, and threats of legal action by empowering people to control the health care decisions of their partners, friends, or neighbors, but that is exactly what anti-abortion extremists hope for.

 Anna Rupani, Executive Director of Fund Texas Choice, said:

“As the first practical support organization in the state, we are acutely aware of how far and wide Texans have to travel to access their abortion. Texas lawmakers’ insistence on policing individuals’ reproductive healthcare by banning the use of roads, assumes that Texans are not deserving or able to make their own decisions  over their bodies. The people who draft and pitch these ‘use of road abortion bans’ to local governments want to instill fear, cause confusion, and increase surveillance among Texans; this is a vile attempt to prevent people from seeking legal abortion care out of state.  Attempting to restrict the right to travel is mean and cruel; it results in pregnant people having fewer rights in Texas depending on what county they live in and creates unequal footing for pregnant people. People have the right to freely move across the state and country under the 14th amendment; creating these laws shows how far anti-abortion extremists are willing to go in violating the Constitution. It also means that some people have different rights depending on where they live, which is antithetical to the notion of equal rights under the law.”

Texans seeking abortions already face unconscionable barriers to care under Texas’ total abortion ban. Just this year, Fund Texas Choice’s clients have had to  travel an astonishing average of 1,656 miles to access their abortions, which often means driving through the state and on state roadways, to get to their appointment. Abortion and practical support funds are receiving an overwhelming number of requests for support and travel costs for out-of-state abortions are higher than ever. Texans experiencing medical emergencies have had to go into septic shock or get on a plane during their medical emergency to seek care out of state. Forcing people to travel for health care has made abortion inaccessible to many Texans and increased the risk of harassment and criminalization for the most vulnerable abortion seekers, particularly people in abusive relationships, minors, migrants, and Black, Indigenous, and other persons of color. These ordinances put vulnerable people at an even greater risk for violence, surveillance, harassment, and criminalization.

These travel bans have NO place in our state! Fund Texas Choice will continue helping Texans access legal abortion care out of state and will continue to fight for Texans’ right to access abortions without fear of investigation, surveillance, or violence.



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