Texas Working on Restricting Travel for Women Highlights Importance of Encryption

The state of Texas has begun working on restricting a woman’s right to travel. Encryption could be more important than ever.

Securing ones information has always been important. In the wake of the Roe v Wade overturning decision, that importance has simply been much more pronounced. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has, on multiple occasions, released information on how to protect your information. Once when the overturning decision was leaked, and a second time after the decision was final.

If that wasn’t enough for women to start seriously considering a regimen of securing personal information, a new development might be further encouragement. Republican’s have long denied that any state would restrict a woman’s right to travel for the purpose of obtaining an abortion. The debate came about in part because some states are refusing to ban the safe medical procedure. This as other states are actively proceeding with restricting women’s rights. As a result, some women are inevitably going to be forced to travel out of state for the procedure.

Now, the right to freely move within the country is seemingly next on the chopping block. A report from Rolling Stone suggests that Texas is working on criminalizing a woman’s right to travel outside of the state:

One week before Lankford made those comments, Yvette Ostolaza, a Dallas-based corporate litigator and the head of the white-shoe law firm Sidley Austin LLP, received a letter from a handful of elected officials in Texas.

“It has come to our attention that Sidley Austin has decided to reimburse the travel costs of employees who leave Texas to murder their unborn children,” the letter, signed by eleven Republicans in the Texas House of Representatives, read. It went on to threaten the law firm — one of the country’s largest — with criminal prosecution and the disbarment of its partners, among other penalties, over its pledge to reimburse “abortion-related travel and, if necessary, related legal-defense expenses” for its employees.

In the letter, Republicans went on to detail their plans to introduce “legislation next session that will impose additional civil and criminal sanctions on law firms that pay for abortions or abortion travel.”

Dozens of the nation’s top law firms, as well as many of its biggest corporations — Amazon, Microsoft, Starbucks, Disney, Tesla, JP Morgan Chase, to name a few — have publicly promised to help employees forced to travel from states where abortion has been banned to recieve medical care. It’s unclear why the Republicans singled out Sidley Austin, and the letter’s author, Mayes Middleton, chair of the Texas Freedom Caucus, did not respond to a request for comment. (Representatives for Sidley declined to comment as well.)

What is clear, Rep. Lizzie Fletcher (D-Texas) tells Rolling Stone, is the letter’s intent: “It is a threat to every employer in Texas that has a similar policy.”

Fletcher was the author of the law Lankford blocked. “It’s really disingenuous,” she says of Republican’s logic. “We know that these efforts are underway.” This year in Missouri, a lawmaker already proposed a law like the one floated by the Texas Republicans in their letter. The archconservative Thomas More Society, one of several anti-abortion groups that write template laws for Republican state legislators, is reportedly drafting on model legislation that would allow private citizens to sue anyone who helps a resident of a state terminate a pregnancy outside of that state.

“The idea that these threats aren’t being made — that this isn’t happening — is just not credible on its face,” Fletcher says.

It’s hard to tell just how far such legislation will go. Under normal circumstances, it would be easy to just laugh at it all and point out that such restrictions is flatly unconstitutional and would almost immediately get tossed out of court. Of course, these are far from normal circumstances given that it was the Republican controlled US Supreme court that sparked all of this in the first place. It is thanks to the overturning of Roe v Wade that the world is recognizing a particularly pronounced backslide in basic civil rights.

Of course, history has shown that just because abortions are outlawed doesn’t mean abortions just stop happening. It just heightens the risk of such a procedure in the first place. As such a medical procedure gets pushed underground, it will definitely further highlight the importance of encryption and secure communication within the country. It may be an all too familiar thing for people like drug dealers, but this will be a much more novel thing for women seeking medical treatment. The fact that at least one state is already wanting to crack down on a woman’s right to travel only further highlights the necessity of such tools in the first place.

The continued backslide of civil rights in the US is terrifying to see. It seems that almost everything is on the table now that ideology is ruling the day much more now than it was before. If more rights continue to get restricted, then it only serves to encourage people to join the ranks of those seeking to encrypt or otherwise obfuscate their activities. The hope is that the security community can accommodate the increased demand as the US slips further into fascism.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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