Lubbock Avalanche-Journal:Colin Allred: Blocking Texas women from driving to another state for abortions is un-American

By Colin Allred
Special to the

It has been a year and a half since Texas enacted its near-total abortion ban with no exceptions for rape or incest, a law championed by a small handful of extremist Republicans, including our state’s junior U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz.

This law is one of the most extreme measures of its kind in the nation, and since its enactment, we have seen horror stories of Texas women being forced to endure the unthinkable.

Women like the Austin mother whose amniotic sac ruptured early, killing her unborn child – but who was nevertheless forced to carry the fetal remains until she developed a life-threatening sepsis infection. This woman, who desperately wanted to have another child, will now find it “more difficult, if not impossible, to get pregnant again in the future.”

Now, Texas women are facing another outrageous violation of their rights – restricting their ability to travel out of state. Recently, Lubbock County became the largest county in our state to ban driving on its roads in order to flee the state to get reproductive health care.

We cannot allow this kind of Orwellian police state to take root. This is Texas. We believe in freedom: to live your life, to make decisions about your own body and health, to travel where you want and to do so without interference from the government. These travel bans are not who we are as Texans, as evidenced by the fact that only 23% of Texans approve of these absurd restrictions.

How will these laws be enforced? By police officers pulling women over and asking, “What is the purpose of your travel, ma’am?” Does that sound like freedom to you? I know it doesn’t to me. That’s not the Texas I know, and it’s not the Texas I want to pass on to my children.

I thank God every day that my wife, Aly, and I were blessed with healthy babies born without complications. But I held my breath at every doctor’s appointment hoping the doctor would not deliver unthinkable news. I cannot imagine how devastating it would have been if the worst had occurred and the doctor then told us that there was a problem with the baby, but that there was nothing they could do, because politicians had made it illegal to provide necessary care.

For politicians like Ted Cruz to take away women’s ability to make their own choices – to force them to carry and deliver a baby that will not survive, or to force a survivor of rape or incest to give birth to their abuser’s child – is unthinkably cruel.

When I am elected to the U.S. Senate, I will vote to codify Roe v. Wade and allow women to make their own reproductive health care decisions. But until then, this is the dangerous reality we are forced to live with in Texas.

My friend and colleague from Houston, U.S. Rep. Lizzie Fletcher, has introduced legislation that would protect women’s constitutional right to interstate travel without government interference. I am proud to co-sponsor this bill, but House Republicans refuse to even put it up for a vote.

Continuing down this road of anti-freedom extremism is not tenable. If we keep going down this path, more families will be forced to endure unimaginable pain – and more women will suffer the lifelong physical, mental, and emotional trauma of being forced to carry and deliver a baby that will not survive.

We cannot allow Ted Cruz and a small, extremist minority to force this dangerous ideology upon all Texans. Texas women deserve the right to get the reproductive health care they need, close to home, without fear of criminalization or invasion of their privacy.

Pairing our state’s abortion ban with an interstate travel ban is turning Texas women into prisoners in their own state. The women of Lubbock County, and across Texas, deserve freedom, not subjugation.

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