Pre (and maybe post) Roe v. Wade--leaving the state for an abortion

I had a conversation with a professor the other day who was telling me the story of attending a college in Michigan in the late 60s, early 70s. She stated that at the time, abortion was illegal in Michigan but legal in New York State. She relayed two instances where a female in her dorm got pregnant and everyone “chipped in” to buy her a plane ticket to New York, have an abortion, and fly back. This got me thinking. Could they have been in violation of Michigan law for doing so, and if Roe v. Wade were overturned, could a state prosecute a woman for leaving a state where abortion were outlawed and travelling to one where it was legal to procure an abortion?

For example: I and two other guys meet at an airport bar in Pittsburgh to plan a murder in Florida. One of the guys gets on an airplane, flies to Miami, commits the murder, and flies back.

As I understand it, if we are caught, both Pennsylvania and Florida would be able to prosecute us for conspiracy and murder.

What about the hypothetical post Roe v. Wade example? Could MS, for example, prosecute people (and anyone who helps them) who leave the state to have an abortion because the mens rea of the act occurred in state?

This may end up in GD, but I think this is straight forward enough.

I thought Puerto Rico was the destination of choice for such trips. Anyway, she could always claim to have miscarried during her dream vacation to NYC (All US citizens get to travel freely within its borders) and no one in Michigan would have the legal standing to claim otherwise. IANAL.

I suspect it depends very much on exactly how the conspiracy law is written. For example, New Yorks conspiracy statutes state that the agreement was made “with intent that conduct constituting a crime (or felony or a specified class of felony or a particular crime) be performed.” It will work for a conspiracy formed in NY to commit murder in New Jersey, because the conduct will constitute a crime in New Jersey. Doesn’t work for a conspiracy formed in New York to go to Nevada and profit from gambling, because profiting from gambling isn’t a crime in Nevada.

A conspiracy statute *could* be worded differently , so that Michigan could prosecute those involved in chipping in to send someone to NY for an abortion - but even assuming that there are no constitutional problems with that, there would be  a practical problem. Which is that states generally don't want interference from other states, and if New York is going to prosecute people who agree while in New York that they will go to Atlantic City or Las Vegas to gamble in ways that are illegal in New York,  then New Jersey ,Nevada and probably a few other states will suddenly become uncooperative to New York.

Forget the absolute impossibility of proving where the mens rea occurred without an admission - how could anyone even know where it occured unless someone admits to it?

It’s not uncharted territory. It used to be a federal crime to travel to another country with the intent of having sex with children, even when it was legal in the other country (the law has since been amended. The sex with children is now per se illegal, no intent needed to be proven.)

But otherwise, intent can be proven by inference. For example, on May 18, Jane Doe, resident of Mississippi found out she was pregnant (confirmed by doctor reports). On May 22, twelve of her friends gave her a hundred dollars each (deposits in her bank account). On May 25, she drove to Illinois (toll records, hotel receipts). On May 26 she got an abortion (doctor bills). On May 28, she returned to MS. (witnesses who saw her).

It’s a reasonable inference that her and her twelve friends conspired to leave the state to violate the law.

No, they conspired to leave the state. Period. They didn’t break a law because what they did wasn’t illegal where they did it. Mississippi has no jurisdiction over Illinois, and has no say in what is legal and illegal there.

Oh , I’m sure a conspiracy can be proved by inference - if either Jane or one of those twelve friends makes an admission to somebody who then reports it to the authorities. Because otherwise, how does the investigation even begin? How do the MS police find out she had an abortion in Illinois ? Assuming they do, how do they find out about the twelve friends unless she tells them? And how could they ever know that Jane took that short trip with her own money to Illinois to have an abortion

In more typical conspiracy cases, evidence of a crime taking place (such as a dead body) sets off an investigation which may lead to the conspiracy being uncovered.But Illinois won’t be investigating this abortion.
And I suspect the difficulty with proving or even discerning intent was the reason for the Federal law being amended. Unless person was on an organized sex tour, or had a history of similar acts, how would anyone know if someone went to Brazil planning to have sex with children or if the person decided to have sex with a child after arriving?

Let’s say that Jane’s great aunt who’s never missed a day of Sunday School is aghast at her wayward family member and calls the police. After questioning, she cuts a deal for a reduced sentence by naming her 12 friends.

Otherwise, what if MS made it strict liability just like the sex tourism law? If you have an abortion outside of MS, and you are a MS resident, you are guilty of a crime, period. How can the U.S. government regulate child sex in Thailand by its citizens, if the state of MS couldn’t regulate abortion in IL by its own citizens?

Could somebody here expound more on the concept of “jurisdiction”? (How about you, jtgain? You’re a law student, ain’tcha?)

Usually, “jurisdiction” is seen a being defined by geography: Any government’s authority extends over its defined area, but ends at the geographic borders. At the U. S. state level, if you don’t like the laws where you are (in your city or county or state or school district or sewer district), one option is to go someplace else where the laws are more to your liking. Any Californian can go to Nevada to gamble or visit the Bunny Love Ranch, without fear of prosecution back home. (That’s true, isn’t it?) (And by, the way, Americans are “citizens” of the country, not the individual state.)

Not so much with Federal law, apparently. U. S. law specifically holds U. S. citizens to Federal law AND local law, wherever in the world they may be. You can’t go out into international waters and shoot whales. If you go to another country and break their laws, that per se is a violation of U. S. law too, AFAIK. (Somebody: Is that correct?)

This idea has always seemed bothersome to me. A U. S. citizen should be able to go to any other Country X, and there be bound only by the laws of Country X. (Now to be sure, we could make separate arguments like, the citizen still owes U. S. taxes, for example.) If you don’t like the U. S. laws, you should be able to go somewhere else where the laws are more to your liking.

There was a case in (I think) Massachusetts in the mid-1960’s that I thought was troublesome. States can compel parents to provide proper medical care for their children, right? If the State tries to compel a parent to give care contrary to the parents’ wishes, do the parents have the right to take their child to another state or even another country?

A couple had a child with leukemia. They didn’t have any confidence in conventional treatment. They wanted Laetrile for their kid, illegal in the United States. A Massachusetts court ordered them NOT to take their kid to Mexico for treatment, which they wanted to do.

Sorry, don’t remember how the case actually played out from there. But what about that story thus far? Can a court order parents not to take their child out of state for treatment in Mexico that was legal in Mexico?

Here, I googled that for me . . .

The Controversy Surrounding Chad Green. Story posted on May 17, 2012 by Marissa Szumowski. Actual case was in 1978-1979.

Yep. And that’s why I am as crazy as I am. :slight_smile: I don’t know the answer or else I wouldn’t have posted the OP. It seems by the precedent set by the federal government (via sex tourism laws) in a hypothetical future post Roe v. Wade, a state could assert jurisdiction over its own citizens by said citizen leaving, getting an abortion, and coming back.

By the same principle, I think California could prohibit you from gambling in Vegas or visiting the Bunny Ranch if the state was so inclined. I’m not saying I agree with it, but I don’t see the difference between the extra-territorial jurisdiction already established by conspiracy laws when the murder takes place in another state and the mentioned sex tourism laws…

California really doesn’t care if you go to the Bunny Ranch. That’s a NIMBY thing. MS may very well try to enact such a law if it were permitted.

Yes, but how does Jane’s great-aunt know if Jane never made an admission regarding the abortion to her? My question was how would the authorities know without any one making any admissions , not confessions. It not like a murder, where there will be some evidence, (like a dead body) that the crime was committed.
It’s not like a burglary, where the victims have reported the crime to the police. If Jane and her twelve friends keep their mouths shut, no one will ever know Jane was pregnant and left the state to have an abortion, much less which side of the border she was on when she made the decision.

I’m not so sure that MS has citizens. I’ve certainly never read any reference to a "citizen of X state ". I believe states have residents, and
I’m not sure how NY could claim me as a NY resident if I were to move to Thailand.Or even New Jersey. Residency implies, well, residency. The United States can claim me as a citizen until either I renounce my citizenship or the government revokes it. Even if I have lived in Thailand or London for the last 20 years.

I suppose they could - if the conspiracy statute were worded properly and if a law having such an impact on the other states’s sovereignty were allowed by the Constitution . However, there is a reason that New York, New Jersey,Georgia , Massachusetts, Arizona, and other states refer in their statutes to committing an “offense” or a “crime” or a “felony” , while others limit the conspiracy statute to particular crimes , such as murder, kidnapping,etc. Again, performing an act in a state where it is legal is not a crime.

Slight hijack, can someone explain to me the US anti-underage-sex tourism laws and how one could flag alleged offences to the US authorities?

Since when has that ever stopped lawmakers?

In short even if for an absurd example buying and consuming Tylenol with codeine is legal in Canada, making plans to go to Canada to do so from inside the USA is a crime.

(IANAL) – Back then, the laws were against performing abortions. There were no laws about leaving the state, etc. Those laws about leaving the state, etc. happened long after Roe v Wade, when the anti-abortion movement was trying to figure out how to get around the Supreme Court ruling.

So anyone who wanted to go the NY could, and they could do whatever they wanted there that was legal in NY.

And even now, the laws about leaving the state only pertain to helping a minor. An adult can still go wherever she wants and do whatever is legal in that state.

It’s right there in the 14th Amendment

The relevant law can be found here.

Penalty is up to 30 years in prison and/or fines. Law applies to US Citizens or permanent residents traveling state to state or internationally to engages in “Illicit Sexual Conduct”. Law also applies to foreign citizens entering the US for the same purposes.

I suppose you could make a report to the local police and the relevant US embassy. The FBI Crimes Against Children task force is another way to make a report.
To bring this back on topic, the US does assert international jurisdiction over its citizens in certain matters. However the US Constitution does have a full faith and credit clause that might limit somewhat the ability of one state to exert its laws in relation to activities taking place in another state.

fn. 2 from Roe;

  1. Ariz.Rev.Stat.Ann. § 13-211 (1956); Conn.Pub. Act No. 1 (May 1972 special session) (in 4 Conn.Leg.Serv. 677 (1972)), and Conn.Gen.Stat.Rev. §§ 53-29, 53-30 (1968) (or unborn child); Idaho Code § 18-601 (1948); Ill.Rev.Stat., c. 38, § 23-1 (1971); Ind.Code § 35-1-58-1 (1971); Iowa Code § 701.1 (1971); Ky.Rev.Stat. § 436.020 (1962); La.Rev.Stat. § 37: 1285(6) (1964) (loss of medical license) (but see § 14:87 (Supp. 1972) containing no exception for the life of the mother under the criminal statute); Me.Rev.Stat. Ann, Tit. 17, § 51 (1964); Mass.Gen.Laws Ann., c. 272, § 19 (1970) (using the term “unlawfully,” construed to exclude an abortion to save the mother’s life, Kudish v. Bd. of Registration, 356 Mass. 98, 248 N.E.2d 264 (1969)); Mich.Comp.Laws § 750.14 (1948);
    So it seems MI had a law preventing abortion, unknown if an exception was to save the Mother’s life?


There is an Ex Post Facto issue here!

CRIMINAL LAW JURISDICTION is specific, either by statute or case law. This is one of the 1st elements I learned when I took Criminal law in College. A crime may be “commenced” in one state and “completed” in another. An example is the US SC case of double jeopardy, Heath v. Alabama. The murder commenced in Georgia, but the body was taken into Alabama. The SC ruled BOTH states could prosecute for the same murder as the “peace and dignity” of 2 sovereigns had been breached.
Here is Ohio’s CLJ:

jt, do you live in Florida, I think I heard you say once?

In part:

910.005 State criminal jurisdiction.—

(1) A person is subject to prosecution in this state for an offense that she or he commits, while either within or outside the state, by her or his own conduct or that of another for which the person is legally accountable, if:
(a) The offense is committed wholly or partly within the state;

(b) The conduct outside the state constitutes an attempt to commit an offense within the state;

© The conduct outside the state constitutes a conspiracy to commit an offense within the state, and an act in furtherance of the conspiracy occurs in the state;

(d) The conduct within the state constitutes an attempt or conspiracy to commit in another jurisdiction an offense under the laws of both this state and the other jurisdiction

State special maritime criminal jurisdiction.

Offenses committed partly in this state.

Offense committed while in transit.>2012->Chapter%20910

You can. You just need to give up your US citizenship. As a US citizen travelling abroad you get certain benifets, like having to government come to your aid if you are detained or arrested. Citizenship comes with certain responsibilities too, like behaving in a way the US expects its citizens to behave.

Controversial, but also not really applicable to the main theme of this thread, and not applicable to the example I gave.

That is, the question of traveling from one state to another within the United States, and committing acts in the destination state that are illegal in the home state, or planning such acts while still in the home state – or traveling internationally, is a citizen still subject to the laws of his home state?

In the example I gave (the Chad Green case), a family went from Massachusetts to Mexico to commit acts in Mexico, against a Massachusetts court order under Massachusetts law. So, should individual states have that power to hold its residents to local law while they are in Mexico? Should Massachusetts have the power to forbid a resident from leaving Massachusetts for the explicit purpose of getting Laetrile in Mexico, which was legal in Mexico? Is the logic all different since it was a child welfare case, involving parents’ decisions on medical treatment for a severely sick child?