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Tuesday, August 16, 2022

GOP Senator Blocks Bill Protecting Right to Interstate Travel for Abortion

Democratic legislation that would protect the right to travel freely from state to state for abortion care was blocked in the Senate on Thursday by Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla).

Lankford, who supports a national ban on abortion, dismissed it as unnecessary and objected to the unanimous consent request of Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.).

“No state has banned interstate travel for adult women wanting to have an abortion. It seems like it’s just trying to provoke, increase what-ifs,” he said on the Senate floor.

The Freedom to Travel for Health Care Act, introduced by Cortez Masto and other Democrats earlier this week, would clarify the right to cross state borders to receive reproductive health care services. It would also give the U.S. Attorney General and affected individuals the authority to bring civil lawsuits against anyone attempting to restrict that right.

In his consent to the Women’s Health Organization in Dobbs v. Jackson, which overturned a 50-year precedent that had established the national right to abortion, Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh sought to reduce the impact of the decision in states where abortions were held. Now illegal, writing that the “constitutional right to interstate travel” would enable women to “travel to another state to obtain an abortion”.

But like the word “abortion,” the U.S. Constitution doesn’t explicitly mention the word “travel.” It is an enumerated right established under the First, Fifth and 14th Amendments. Kavanaugh also appears to be alone on this front. No other justices in the Dobbs majority joined their concurrence.

Sen. James Lankford on Thursday blocked a bill that would protect the right to travel freely from state to state for abortion care.

Tom Williams via Getty Images

Democrats and reproductive rights groups fear that Republican-controlled states will take advantage of this gap and move to restrict travel and criminalize cross-state travel for abortion care. Anti-abortion groups and GOP lawmakers in some states are already indicating where they want to go next.

Indiana’s GOP attorney general said Wednesday that his office plans to investigate the Indiana doctor who helped a 10-year-old rape victim get an abortion.

Conservatives have also threatened employers who go ahead with plans to cover their employees’ travel expenses for out-of-state abortions — either with criminal liability or forfeiting their tax breaks. Dozens of major companies have committed to do the same, including Amazon, Disney, Apple and JP Morgan.

“It’s important that we’re not only protecting women and giving them the right to travel for critical reproductive health care in states like Nevada, we’re protecting providers as well as those large companies and employers. who want to assist women in obtaining reproductive care,” Cortez Masto told HuffPost.

But Republicans, who before the Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade, and who is likely to support a national ban on abortion when it comes to the Senate, says it’s all a made-up issue.

“I think this is a bill looking for a problem,” Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) told HuffPost. “I don’t see any reason or any serious person saying they want to arrest women for having abortions crossing state borders.”

“It’s already protected in the Constitution,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas).

Cortez Masto is not convinced.

“It’s a form of gaslighting to emphasize that American women will care when we know that anti-choice legislators and groups are working to stop them from doing so,” the senator said Thursday.

Meanwhile, Sen. Steve Dines (R-Mont.) claimed the law would promote “abortion tourism” and that it would “protect the greed of waking corporations” who have pledged to cover their employees’ travel costs.

Democrats in the House are expected to pass similar legislation on Friday. It is unclear whether Democrats in the Senate will attempt to pass the bill via a recorded vote, a process that takes longer. Democratic leadership is currently trying to get the household spending bill passed and a measure intended to boost the semiconductor industry.

World Nation News Desk
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