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Ohio anti-abortion group says it has no plans to ban women seeking procedure out of state

The court ordered hold on Ohio's abortion ban will end on Oct. 12, and the state's Heartbeat Law, which bans abortion at six weeks of pregnancy, will take effect.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Sunday marked 100 days since the US Supreme Court overturned Roe V Wade.

The court ordered hold on Ohio's abortion ban will end on Oct. 12, and the state's Heartbeat Law, which bans abortion at six weeks of pregnancy, will take effect. 

Ohio lawmakers won't return to the Statehouse until mid-November, and when they do, anti-abortion lobbyist Michael Gonidakis, of Ohio Right to Life, said there are no plans to introduce legislation to ban the travel of women seeking abortions out of state.

"It is unconstitutional to ban travel between states and we are not attempting to do that and I know no one across the street who wants to attempt that either," Gonidakis said.

Constitutional law professor Tracy Thomas of the University of Akron said while there are strong indications from the U.S. Supreme Court that travel is protected, the court hasn't said that.

"We have some pretty strong statements from the U.S. Supreme Court that there is a right to travel and that you could go to other states, although it's a very undeveloped area of the law, " Thomas said.

For those who support bans against traveling out of state for an abortion, there is precedent.

Scholars point to the 1941 ruling in Skirotes vs. Florida.

Under the 1985 Supreme Court ruling, the high court's decision in Phillips Petroleum vs Shutts concluded states are able to apply civil laws to their citizens when there in other states.

But there are plenty of reasons why the Supreme Court would not support a travel ban. Among the reasons is state sovereignty. States are sovereignty entities and govern themselves. Under the law, the sovereignty of one state does not trump the sovereignty of another state. The right to travel: The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the right to travel from state to state since 1867 in Crandall vs. State of Nevada.

Associate Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh appears to provide further clarity.

"Justice Kavanaugh in the Dobbs abortion opinion itself said he thought the right to travel absolutely protected women who would travel across state lines," Thomas said.

Because of Ohio's abortion ban, the closest options for women seeking to terminate their pregnancies are in three states.

Michigan has found the abortion ban unconstitutional and has chosen not work with states wishing to prosecute out of state women that seek an abortion in the state.

Indiana is another option. It recently passed a ban with exceptions for cases of rape, incest, fatal fetal abnormality, or in cases where the mother's life is at stake.

The other option is Pennsylvania, although it is limited at 24 weeks gestational age.

The governor has signed an executive order to protect abortion providers and those seeking abortions from other states.

But what about women who purchase abortion pills online?

Ohio Right to Life said it no plans to restrict them.

"We are not naive. We know the pill will still be able to come into the state even if we ban abortion. It would be illegal to even attempt to create a state law to regulate the internet or the postal service, so we are not even going to attempt to do that," Gonidakis said.

Thomas agrees that states will have a hard time regulating abortion pills by mail.

"The state's ability to regulate interstate commerce is only if the federal government is not doing so," Thomas said.

Nearly one in 10 abortions in 2020 were provided to patients who'd crossed state lines, according to the Guttmacher Institute. That's up from 6% in 2011. The report notes, the increase occurred as a growing number of states were passing abortion restrictions. 

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