Senate Democrats unveil abortion access bill ‘Freedom to Travel For Health Act of 2022′
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court’s decision to let states ban abortion should not also give states the right to police women’s travel, a trio of Senate lawmakers said Tuesday, rolling out a bill that would block such efforts.
[ Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, ending federal right to legal abortion in U.S. ]
The move led by Senate Democrats, including Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Catherine Cortez-Masto (D-Nev.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.), comes as several conservative states have floated legislation targeting women who want to cross state lines to get abortion care.
The Senate Democrats’ measure, called the Freedom to Travel For Health Act of 2022, would bar such legislation.
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“This whole issue is all about control. It’s about who controls women,” said Gillibrand at a Capitol Hill news conference. “And you don’t have to look farther than many right-wing legislators’ efforts to ban women from traveling out of state to seek the reproductive care that they need.”
Whether or not travel bans would survive legal challenges remains unclear. Conservative Justice Brett Kavanaugh agreed with the Supreme Court’s recent repeal of the Roe v. Wade case that travel bans would not be permitted. The opinion is not binding, however, and Cortez Masto said her state is already dealing with the possibility of travel bans.
“It is having a chilling effect, based on the states actually working to criminalize doctors, to criminalize women. There is no doubt that I already see it in my state,” Cortez Masto said.
Gillibrand pointed to Texas, where conservative lawmakers recently warned a law firm it would face the consequences if it paid for women to travel out of state.
“Already legislation is being filed in states like Texas, where employers are trying to guarantee these fundamental freedoms to their workforce,” Gillibrand said.
[ Biden administration says hospitals must provide abortion services if mother’s life at risk ]
“We also are having the challenge of states that are going to serve as places where reproductive care can be received, like New York. We want to make sure that they are not in the crosshairs,” Gillibrand said.
The lawmakers said they intend to try to bring the bill up for a vote on Thursday. Doing so will require the consent of all senators, which is unlikely to be granted.
But the lawmakers said it’s worth pushing the issue to put senators on the record.
“We’re calling for a vote, an up or down vote — do you believe in the right to travel?” Gillibrand said. “And I daresay, if any person in this chamber votes against the right to travel, woe be to the rest of America because all of our rights are being eroded.”