Abortion Assistance Groups Granted Right to Sue Alabama AG Over Criminalization Claims

Abortion Assistance Groups Granted Right to Sue Alabama AG Over Criminalization Claims

A lawsuit against Alabama’s attorney general over his threat to prosecute groups that assist people in crossing state boundaries for abortions can proceed, a federal judge determined.

U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson determined that the groups filing the complaint had sufficiently established that Attorney General Steve Marshall’s threats if carried out, would violate the right to travel and free speech. Thompson’s preliminary ruling, delivered on Monday, dismissed Marshall’s plea for dismissal.

The groups sued Marshall in July when he threatened to make them criminally accountable for assisting people in raising funds for out-of-state abortions. Marshall stated in a radio interview in August 2022 that his agency would investigate any organization that gives financial assistance to those who require money to travel for the surgery.

In August, Marshall contended in a move to dismiss the complaint that purchasing bus tickets or driving someone across state boundaries to obtain an abortion was a “criminal conspiracy.” The judge was finally unconvinced. Marshall’s threat to prosecute such groups as the West Alabama Women’s Center and the Yellowhammer Fund violates right-of-travel law, he wrote.

“The Constitution protects the right to cross state lines and engage in lawful conduct in other States, including receiving an abortion,” wrote Thompson. The judge continued: “Alabama can no more restrict people from going to, say, California to engage in what is lawful there than California can restrict people from coming to Alabama to do what is lawful here.”

A patient’s right to travel is “inextricably bound up” with the groups’ right to assist them in doing so, the court said, because “the plaintiffs face the threat of enforcement should they resume facilitating out-of-state abortions, they have every incentive to litigate their claim vigorously.”

The overturning of Roe v. Wade has resulted in an increase in people crossing state lines for abortions, as well as threats of punishment against patients, physicians, and abortion funds participating in such travel. Individuals are also taking legal action to sanction individuals that carry out the procedure: According to The Washington Post, a guy in Texas is attempting to depose his former girlfriend in order to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit after she allegedly traveled to Colorado for an abortion.

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