Attorney General Ellison moves to protect interstate travel to seek abortion

Submits amicus brief with 22 AGs arguing Texas’ laws violate individuals’ constitutional right to interstate travel; follows commitment that no one traveling to Minnesota to seek or provide a legal abortion will be prosecuted

September 23, 2022 (SAINT PAUL) — Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison today joined a multistate coalition of 22 attorneys general in submitting an amicus brief to protect the rights of individuals to travel out of Texas to obtain an abortion. The multistate amicus brief, submitted in Fund Texas Choice v. Paxton, supports a motion for preliminary injunction by reproductive rights advocates seeking to halt enforcement of several Texas anti-abortion laws. In the amicus brief, Attorney General Ellison and the coalition argue that Texas residents, as well as Minnesotans temporarily in Texas for school, work, or vacation, have the constitutional right to travel to states like Minnesota, where the right to legal abortion is constitutionally protected under the Minnesota Supreme Court’s 1995 Doe v. Gomez opinion, to access legal abortions. 

Attorney General Ellison has already pledged that no one from any state will be prosecuted in Minnesota for seeking, helping someone else seek, or providing an abortion that is legal in Minnesota.

“It is my job to protect the safety and dignity of every Minnesotan and the people of every state who are in Minnesota. This includes anyone from Texas who may travel to Minnesota to seek, provide, or help someone else seek an abortion that’s legal in Minnesota. It is well established that the U.S. Constitution protects the right to travel across state lines. I moved to protect this right in court because I will not sit back and allow any state to trample on it,” Attorney General Ellison said.  

The lawsuit was filed by Texas reproductive-rights groups Fund Texas Choice, Jane’s Due Process, the Lilith Fund for Reproductive Equity, Clinic Access Support Network, The Afiya Center, West Fund, and OB-GYN Dr. Ghazaleh Moayedi. In the motion, Dr. Moayedi explains that she seeks to travel to provide abortion services in states where her medical services are legal, and the other plaintiffs seek to travel to support individuals in Texas who want to access reproductive care in states where it is legal. But they fear financial ruin or prosecution for traveling to assist individuals seeking legal abortion as a result of Texas’ anti-abortion laws. 

In the amicus brief, Attorney General Ellison and the coalition assert that Texas' anti-abortion laws violate an individual’s constitutional right to interstate travel, and that interference with that right poses a substantial threat to the liberty and safety of those individuals, some who may need to exit Texas under urgent circumstances. Texas' anti-abortion laws not only deprive Texas residents from access to the reproductive care they need within Texas borders, but Texas lawmakers have indicated that they are also seeking to impede an individual’s ability to travel across state lines to obtain an abortion, to provide an abortion, or to support a patient in need of an abortion. 

Attorney General Ellison and the coalition argue that while Texas may regulate abortion within its borders, intruding on the right to interstate travel, including for abortion, is unlawful. Minnesota and the coalition states have a strong interest in preserving the right to interstate travel. Thousands of the coalition states’ residents live in Texas to attend college, go to graduate school, or to serve as temporary workers; millions of others enter Texas as visitors each year. Minnesota and the coalition states have a significant interest in ensuring that those residents may leave and safely return to Texas to access time-sensitive, lawful, and safe medical care, including abortions.  

Minnesota and the coalition states have a strong interest in preserving Texas providers’ right to travel to Minnesota and the other states to provide abortion services or to accompany a patient in need of abortion care. As states that are committed to protecting access to reproductive healthcare, Minnesota and the coalition states have a profound interest in preserving the right to travel for the millions of individuals living in states with restrictive abortion laws and for whom travel to seek abortions is critical. Texas’s anti-abortion laws—and Texas lawmakers’ threats to use those laws to restrict travel outside their state borders—pose a substantial threat to the liberty and safety of those individuals who may need to exit Texas to seek time-sensitive reproductive care. 

In submitting the amicus brief, Attorney General Ellison joins the California Attorney General Rob Bonta, who led the brief, and the attorneys general of Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Washington.