Senate

Senate Democrats unveil bill to protect women who cross state lines for abortions

Supreme Court Abortion
Abortion-rights demonstrators shout slogans after tying green flags to the fence of the White House during a protest to pressure the Biden administration to act and protect abortion rights, in Washington, Saturday, July 9, 2022. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

A group of Senate Democrats on Tuesday unveiled legislation to protect a person’s ability to travel across states to acquire reproductive care like abortions and contraception.

The bill titled “Freedom to Travel for Health Care Act of 2022” was introduced by Democratic Sens. Patty Murray (Wash.) and Catherine Cortez Masto (Nev.).

Citing the 14th Amendment as well as prior Supreme Court rulings on interstate travel, the bill seeks to explicitly outlaw any attempts to “restrict or in way sanction, hold liable, discriminate against, or otherwise disadvantage any individual from traveling to another State to receive or provide reproductive health care that is legal in that State.”

The bill would also invalidate state laws that went against the protections included within it and would give the U.S. attorney general the ability to take civil actions against states that try to enact or enforce such laws. Individuals and entities also impacted by potential laws restricting or penalizing travel for abortion would also be able to take civil action against states.

The White House has similarly moved to protect the ability to travel across state lines in order to receive reproductive services like abortions.

Several companies have also announced their intentions to cover the cost of travel for their employees who have to travel out-of-state to receive an abortion. Companies including Amazon, Condé Nast, Disney, Meta and JPMorgan Chase have all stated their plans of covering travel costs for their employees seeking abortions.

“Restricting women’s right to travel across state lines is truly radical—and un-American. Our bill would protect Americans’ constitutional right to travel across state lines to get a lawful abortion—and protect the providers who care for them. Even as Republicans go to the ends of the Earth to strip away our constitutional rights, Democrats are fighting back to protect them,” Murray said.

Other co-sponsors of the bill include Democratic Sens. Chuck Schumer (N.Y.), Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), Raphael Warnock (Ga.) and independent Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.)

In a press briefing shortly after the bill was unveiled, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said the legislation was not about any specific medical procedure but was meant to protect privacy rights.

“This is much bigger than these justices want us to believe. It is not about a medical procedure. It is about fundamental constitutional rights that are being eliminated one by one, not only by the Supreme Court, but by right-wing legislatures who are trying to augment the ability to control 50 percent of the U.S. population,” she said.

Gillibrand said she had reached across the aisle for possible bipartisan support for the bill but had so far not heard from any of her Republican colleagues.

Updated: 3:06 p.m.

Tags abortion abortion access abortion rights Kirsten Gillibrand Patty Murray Patty Murray
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