Should Pregnant Women Boycott Travel To Republican States After The Supreme Court Abortion Ruling?

The Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization – overturning Roe v. Wade – hits home for many women in a way that few other cases could.

One common point I’ve seen made since the Supreme Court’s abortion ruling is that pregnant women should now avoid travel to Red States.

I am not going to dive into the question of whether a woman who knows she is pregnant but finds she needs an abortion for medical reasons while traveling is likely to face restrictions – that’s a political question guessing what each state will do at a fairly granular level.

It’s not just about bans on abortion (whether in total or after a certain number of months) but about whether there are medically-necessary carveouts as well. Suffice to say I would guess several states imposing restrictions will have carveouts of various kinds if only for political expediency.

However I’d make the point that abortion won’t simply be outlawed in ‘Red States’. There are several conservative-leaning states whose state constitutions have been explicitly interpreted to protect abortion rights. Examples include Alaska, Kansas, and Montana.

What’s going to be confusing for awhile is what exactly each state attempts to do – in terms of restricting and proactively protecting – reproductive choice. That’s going to take some time to work out. And to the extent these decisions influence travel choices you want to make it’s going to mean following the details of each state, and determining where you draw your own lines.

I’m genuinely curious, since in the U.S. the Supreme Court has made this issue focal. Has abortion been an issue that women considered when traveling to Europe while pregnant? It’s far more restrictive there in most countries than it has been in the U.S.

  • Abortion is illegal without exception in Malta
  • It was illegal in Ireland until 2018 expect for life of the mother, and current law is more restrictive than the one upheld in Dobbs
  • Many doctors refuse to perform abortions across much of Europe, making it challenging to get one on parts of the continent
  • Second trimester abortions are frequently limited

However I think it’s also worth highlighting the constitutional right to travel. The right to travel meant that thousands of women in Ireland traveled to the U.K. for abortion. Here, post Dobbs several companies, including Alaska Airlines and American Airlines, have emphasized the extent to which employees can travel and take advantage of their health care.

The Supreme Court’s ruling in Saenz v. Roe 526 U.S. 489 (1999) clearly and explicitly articulates a constitutional right to travel. See also generally Crandall v. Nevada, 73 U.S. 35 (1868) and United States v. Guest, 383 U.S. 745 (1966). Some states may seek to impose penalties on its citizens for obtaining abortions out of state. I would not expect those attempts to ultimately be upheld.

I support reproductive freedom – though at some point during the second trimester these questions become really hard. Fortunately about 95% of abortions are during the first trimester, and only 1% in the third. I would not ban medically necessary third trimester procedures. And I worry that restrictions earlier in a pregnancy don’t merely lead to fewer abortions but also some abortions taking place later – the opposite of what you’d want.

But I understand those who come to different conclusions than I do, since I’m not certain in my position. It’s precisely because I do not believe I know the ‘right’ answer here that I’m reluctant to impose a decision on others.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. Nothing to worry about, anyway. Democrat women can’t get pregnant after that vaccine they all took.

    Whoops, I forgot it was transphobic to say “women” instead of “people with uteruses”.

  2. Here we go!
    At least the first comment was funny!

    It’s invigorating when a basic right is taken away after 49 years. Spurs people to action. The battles ahead will be “interesting.”

    Republicans never think about the unintended consequences of their actions LOL. They limited the office of U.S. President to 2 terms because of FDR then they cried tears of anguish because Reagan couldn’t serve more than 2 terms LOL!

    May I ask politely that zealots on both sides PLEASE keep comments on this post civil. Minds on both sides are made up and you’re not going to convince anyone to “see the light.”

    Hey, a guy can dream…..

  3. Unfortunately you opened a can of worms with this one Gary. The incoherence of the first poster shows where this discussion is rapidly going to go. You are right about using mass economic power to try and force a change of policy, and in a capitalistic society that certainly can have a major impact. But in such an emotional issue which for two generations has been deliberately politicized nobody is going to convince anybody else. Allow me to suggest pulling this page before things get ugly.

  4. Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel – a topic he has covered since 2002. I don’t see anything in the above sentence about your qualification as a doctor. They took an oath, “First, do no harm”. If you want to talk about states to avoid then maybe you should also have put in the “Blue” states that you are more likely to be murdered than die from a medical emergency decision that a hospital would make. So I suggest you stay out of politics and stick with your flying gig.

  5. The issue for pregnant women will be laws that put the rights of the fetus on the same level as their rights. That will put many medical procedures beyond abortion into a gray area, and my stop doctors from recommending life-saving procedures for the mother because doing so could put the medical professional into legal jeopardy.

  6. The “concern” for the “unborn” is born from dogmatic theology that is true only of monotheistic religions each of which professes to be the sole purveyor of truth. Over 17 million children suffer from malnutrition in the US while the country ranks 33rd among OECD countries for child mortality with the red states performing poorly in both categories.

  7. Pregnant men should also avoid red states!

    The court has ruled that the Federal government has no authority over reproductive decisions. Would protestors prefer they do?

    Now it goes from unelected judges to accountable elected legislatures. The American way

  8. Women’s rights? What about the baby’s rights? Maybe they don’t want to be murdered.

  9. Losing respect for this blog.
    You’re introducing topics which you have no expertise on, as the initial Tweet you post is complete fearmongering. The situations where a pregnant woman would need to have an abortion emergently for her safety are incredibly rare if they exist at all. Many emergency complications can arise in the third trimester but the solution is almost always to deliver the BABY. And many states with abortion restrictions have carve outs for the mother’s safety anyways.

  10. The hypocrisy of those who supported vaccine mandates – and have now flip-flopped to ‘my body my choice’…. is staggering. Staggering.

    These people have no shame and no consistency.

    Also, I think it’s racist to say women anymore.
    Women don’t exist, it’s all a spectrum.

    (a lot of people have talked about the worst thing for women, is the trans movement. Steps all over women’s rights. And that’s showing itself now. Hard to rally people around ‘womb carriers’ now that women have been destroyed by liberals.)

  11. Those who understand history know that it was in fact primarily Catholic Democrats who kept abortion illegal until Roe, and Protestant Republicans who fought for reform (perhaps only to be contrary to the Catholics). Protestants and Republicans came to this conclusion much later. Even today, correlation isn’t the same as causation, and Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular is much more determinative of anti-abortion advocacy than party affiliation. I wonder how many of the people boycotting “Republican States” (whatever that means) would boycott orthodox Catholics/Christians which would be a much more accurate target?

  12. I live in Europe and you’re basically spreading lies. Access to abortion is very easy and common across Europe.
    Malta is a small country, you can’t generalize it to the rest of the continent

  13. @Don Hypocrisy? The link between vaccine mandates and abortion rights is not even gossamer thin. Vaccine mandates ensure that people’s alleged personal choice does not harm others. A woman’s right to her body does not affect society at large and more often than not is caused by the actions of reckless and selfish males

  14. Quit causing trouble!

    Why don’t more men get vasectomy’s? That will solve alot of problems.
    I’m more concerned about $6.00 gas and high food prices.

    This is such a NONstory.

  15. Boycotts in travel generally don’t work.

    The sad part is that this two party system along with our silo-news sources and gerrymandering are destroying our country. The extremists on both sides take hostages and the 75% of us who fall somewhere in the middle – we don’t want to infringe on personal rights (even if you disagree) but at the same time, want to have fiscal responsibility and common sense – are left to make poor choices.

  16. @claire: Ha ha. Neutering would be even better. Most men are unfit to be fathers. Matter of fact there should be licensing and permitting system for fathers

  17. There is a right to life not a right to kill.

    Nothing in the constitution mentions abortion. There is nothing anywhere that says abortion is a right

    Women are so entitled they think they have the “right” to take another life.

    Now they have to take responsibility and that is horrifying to the coddle band entitled America woman.

  18. Hi Gary,
    The last line of your blog pretty well sums up my position.

    “It’s precisely because I do not believe I know the ‘right’ answer here that I’m reluctant to impose a decision on others.”

    I really wish people would get over the desire to impose their morality on others.

  19. Clearly the person who gave that advice had her brains knocked out by the decision because regardless of where you stand on the issue, the following is true: 1. If it’s a medical emergency, you can still get any care you need in any state, including an abortion. 2. If it’s not an emergency that is life threatening, and you had the money to travel into a state, you’ve got the money to travel to another state. 3. No state is going to round up pregnant women that cross their borders and place them in maternity concentration homes. 4. The Red State Air National Guard is not going to force planes flying in their airspace to land and remove all the pregnant women into aforementioned homes. 5. Even Kavanaugh, in his concurring opinion, states that travel bans on pregnant women to obtain an abortion would be unconstitutional.

    FWIW, I have a couple of female pro-choice lawyers in the family who think the ruling is correct from a constitutional law perspective. As they note, they wish we didn’t have a ban in our state, and will work to undo it, but realistically, the difference between today and a week ago for our state is you have to drive an additional 15 minutes to cross a state line. Hysteria is not in order.

  20. Regardless of ones’ views on abortion, there is no Constitutional right to an abortion so Roe was a flawed judicial decision, creating a “right” where one did not exist. Now, there is also no explicit Constitutional prohibition either, and the latest Supreme Court decision has not prohibited abortion … regardless of the sometimes hysterical rhetoric you hear from activists on both sides of the issue.

    So, it’s left to lawmakers to make laws and for State executives, Governors, to veto or sign those laws. How quaint! I thought I learned that in grade school some time ago.

    Ultimately, though, this is a moral issue that is impossible for any governmental entity to reconcile to everyones’ satisfaction.

    Reasonable people can believe that life begins at conception and that elective abortion is wrong. Other reasonable people can believe that life begins when a fetal heartbeat is detected and that an elective abortion from that point forward is wrong. Other reasonable people can think that an elective abortion is acceptable until such point that a fetus can survive with or without medical assistance such as found in an NICU.

    How do you bridge that divide through legislation??

    Then, of course you have those on the extremes who believe that an abortion should be banned in instances of rape or incest and those who believe that abortion is acceptable in the 3rd trimester up until the point of delivery.

    This issue will never go away and will be a part of our politics every 2 years.

  21. “Vaccine mandates ensure that people’s alleged personal choice does not harm others.”

    There’s one problem with that statement. We know the experimental gene therapies don’t stop transmission and don’t keep someone from becoming infected. Even if you accept the drug companies argument that they reduce symptoms, there’s no evidence to support this, then the decision to get the shot or not becomes a “personal choice”.

    “A woman’s right to her body does not affect society at large…” No, it affects the fetus she just killed.

    So, viewing the two situations, we have one decision that might, highly unlikely, impact others, while the other will absolutely affect one individual greatly.

    Also, “I support reproductive freedom…” A perfect example of how we’ve bastardized the language. Referring to the killing of a fetus as “reproductive freedom” is both disingenuous and lazy thinking. It demonstrates a lack of principles and moral clarity.

  22. @James N a 6-week-old foetus is not an “individual” that is not sentient much less capable of any self-sustenance. The lower boundary for sentience is 15-16 weeks.

  23. The best solution here is to also pass a law that the father needs to provide support for any and offspring from birth until their 18th birthday. If the father does not have the financial means of support, then his parents and extended family are also liable.

  24. To Mr Vijay. I’m with you on your comments. We need rational and practical solutions. Not some religious or constitutional justification. It’s comical that Texas won’t legalize weed, but conceal weapon is OK. Both are freedom right?
    Right to life believers never has any problem support execution of a felon. Life is either precious, or not at all. You can’t have both ways. US is consistently #1 by almost all the polls, number in incarceration. So for those who claim that the court got this right, who obviously need to be reminded the disproportion of minorities are being incarcerated, and Perry Mason is a fictional lawyer. If you cant outspend on prosecution on lawyers billable and have private detective; you are not going to have a fair defense.
    Many companies in Red States will pay for their employees to travel to another state that abortion is legal. This also is a very tricky situation, because the female employee will need to declare certain private information to the employer. This muddles patient and medical privacy laws. Texas prides itself lured many high tech firms from California. This will give a big pause now, as many female employees will hesitating for relocation. This will hit their pocket book too.

  25. @Vijay… Your comment doesn’t change my point at all. Whether it’s “sentient” or “capable of self-sustenance” is irrelevant. The obvious fact remains, that abortion is the taking of another life…plain and simple. When you can refute that argument, get back to me.

  26. The way I see it, my decision to travel is based on many things and one major item is the way the location treats it’s people. I won’t go to Saudi Arabia, Israel, etc so the red states will now fall into this Catagory of no visit locations. I can especially see the point made by the tweet about concerns should she have a problem.

  27. @growler – Roe was a poorly argued decision IMHO but that doesn’t imply no constitutional right to reproductive choice. A robust 9th amendment jurisprudence would presumably ground such a right. Sadly the court has largely ignored the 9th amendment virtually entirely.

  28. James, I did not plan to get back to this discussion except as an observer, but you’ve raised a fundamental point. By “life” I presume you mean human life–most folks are not concerned about killing other animals for food or self-protection, so I’ll work from that narrow assumption. Okay, so we are at a genetic basis of definition. Then the question comes down to destroying something that has DNA. So it seems as though we are in agreement about a viable human being, either a healthy fetus well along towards birth (I’ll leave that point to the physicians), or a person near the end of life (assisted voluntary termination is a whole different issue).

    So then the question comes down to a small lump of organized tissue…and how is that different from, say, removing a badly infected toe or a tumor? It apparently has no self-consciousness, the existence of a soul has never been proven, and without mental or psychic “being” we have nothing. It’s not “another life,” it certainly is not a “baby”, and definitely not one of those cute little kids on all the billboards. Obviously sincerely religious people of certain beliefs will disagree, but at least we can define our terms and what we are discussing. And then maybe we can put emotions aside.

    This whole issue has been whipped up by some political groups who have profited mightily from it. Get away from them and let’s talk rationally about our core beliefs and what they are based upon. We could go further…does “protecting life” mean feeding and caring for all children, does it mean ending military budgets that are bankrupting this country, does it mean a national health insurance system, does it mean teaching birth control to all young people? Secondary considerations perhaps, but not ones that can necessarily be separated from dealing with an effect rather than a cause of “protecting life.”

  29. Gary Leff is correct. Western Europe, like Germany, Belgium, Denmark, Switzerland, and most other countries are far more anti-abortion than America (now half of America). In those countries, you can get an abortion only to 12-14 weeks depending on the country. In more than half of the US, it is 24 weeks.

    Therefore, Europe is anti-abortion and the US is pro-abortion. Wake up, America. Protest against Europe, not against your fellow Americans.

  30. As an Ob/Gyn for over 30 years that has practiced in Texas, California, and Virginia the travel concern brought up in the headline for this post is a complete non-issue. Please Gary, do not contribute to the fear mongering. Over time there will be changes in access to abortion services across the country, but no one knows (yet) how this will play out. I suspect there will be just as many states that broaden access as those that place further restrictions.

  31. You positively embarrass yourself and your countrymen and -women, by stating how restrictive Europe is with respect to abortion rights. Do a little reading, do something, before you stick your foot in your mouth so deeply.

  32. Nice thing about this is that lots of libtards who keep moving to redstates will stay in the blue state shitholes.

    Abortion should be called black genocide because 20 million black babies have been killed since it was allowed. Black women have more abortions than all those races combined and in NYC there were more abortions than black births.

    Margret Sanger was a eugenics supporter and founded the Planned Parenthood as a way to stop black people from “breeding”. She called them weeds and other things.

    Black lives matter.

  33. It’s funny how the anti-vaxxers are all “my body…my choice” only when it’s convenient for them. They are happy to refuse medical care for themselves, but want government regulations for things that they choose to impose on others. Sad times we live in.

  34. I agree with C E B. Gary, you really need to stay in your lane! You didn’t need to go there at all and I’m sure you realize that most people who read your posts do not want any further discussion of a subject to which they are constantly bombarded when they turn on their TV’s!! Bad, bad “choice!!”

  35. I’m with Vijay altho I don’t see this pertinent to travel I also see it as a non issue. It will settle out to states rights where it and many things should be. We are overwhelmed with people and while I believe women should be responsible with contraceptives not leave it to an abortion clinic. Two thirds of the world go to bed in squalor. That spills over into first world countries . We recently had a million pour over our southern border. Many with nurseries in tow! I don’t want women in burkas. And I don’t think human life is the only sacred life.

  36. I like your post Gary. I share your sentiments. As a pro-choice conservative woman, I resent the label “pro-abortion”. “Oh, yay, I’m pregnant, now I can get an abortion!” said no woman ever. It’s like saying I’m pro death when I call a code after futile efforts at resuscitation.

  37. drrichard: an abscess or cancer will grow up to be a medical risk to the point of possibly killing the person.

    A developing fetus will grow up to be a son or daughter, friend, wife or husband, mother or father…

    Abortion is more about limiting the potential of a future life that will definitely grow from cells to an individual.

    James N has succinctly and thoughtfully framed the hypocrisy of the loudest protesters. They help no one and only make a mockery of our democracy. They are allowed to rant, rave, invite and injure while those who want to argue a more nuanced view are censored, threatened, even investigated or jailed.

    The problem, to take a giant leap, is lack of term limits, empowered administrative state, backwards policies that favor interests of those who have captured the above and criminalizing of proper debate, dissent and thoughtful solutions.

    Thank you

  38. Please, for your own good stay out of the Red Zones! It is *just* like Gilead down here. Definitely don’t move here. Definitely. Stay in your Blue Zone paradises!

  39. @Ray – Please provide me a list of your future travel plans and I will provide you a list of why you shouldn’t travel there because it violates your sense of ethics as I can presume by your list of countries/states. I can assure you that you will travel nowhere – and if you think otherwise, you aren’t looking closely enough. You may even have to move from your current location. And the rest of us will thank you for reducing the lines at the airport by one.

    @Gary – I agree, one could use the 9th, but that requires someone to argue it. No one did here, and the court isn’t going to argue for something that no one asked for – or at least they shouldn’t. And the ground for establishing such an argument will take years to establish.

  40. Gary,

    FYI, I live in Malta. I’ve been following the abortion issue here in Malta closely. Just to clarify your comment how difficult it is to get abortion in Europe than in U. S. IT IS LEGAL IN ALL EU countries except Malta. Despite strong rhetoric on the subject, it will fall here just like divorce and same sex marriage.

    One of the least discussed thing in Malta and the States, judging from this blog, is the fact a large majority of commenter on this subject are men. For a large segment of the population, I find that most men have No clue what women are going through. Yet they will tell you what motivates a women to get an abortion.

    In the words members of evangelical churches, a woman more than ten feet from the stove is on the run. Get a brain. And while searching for one, stifle it.

  41. Thank you for the reasoned response Scott, and I think we can just agree to disagree. I will say though that I don’t see the reasoning in your first part, as the same argument can be used against any sort of birth control, which gets us nowhere. The fact that a fetus may grow up to be a friend or relative really is irrelevant. It’s a bit like an anti-abortion ad of some years ago where Beethoven’s parents are having this procedure. Substitute “Hitler” in the family name and the argument turns on its head.

  42. If a woman on a business trip were to willingly have or unwillingly be subjected to unprotected sex in a state that bans abortions, if such woman attempts to get an abortion or have an abortion as soon as possible where it is legal, could the woman potentially be subject to an arrest/arrest warrant and prosecution for taking an abortion-inducing drug or having the pregnancy terminated in a state where abortion is not banned?

    Abortion bans became increasingly popular in the US when the call of the day from American Protestants was a sort of “we will not be replaced (by Catholics)” mantra of the day that was probably close to the hearts of Trump’s KKK antecedents at the time.

  43. Where did you come up with this idea that abortion is far more restrictive in most European countries than it has been in the U.S?

    Abortion access is legally far more restrictive today in Wisconsin and Oklahoma than it is in most of Europe.

  44. @Vjay. My sister in law was in a horrible traffic accident and is unable to feed herself. She suffered some brain damage and will likely not fully recover. If we withhold food and water she will die in days. By you reasoning she is not viable and we should pull the plug. That’s a pathetic position.

  45. Fine by me. Look, anyone who wants to “boycott” my state is probably some insufferable douchebag liberal who we don’t want to deal with anyway. Stay woke and stay away!

  46. 6 European countries ban or severely restrict abortion. Almost all other European countries require medical/legal documentation for abortions after 12 weeks.

  47. I think limiting people moving and traveling to red states from blue states is pretty much the main goal of all these policies.

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