Democratic senators have introduced legislation that would prohibit states with anti-abortion policies from imposing punishments on residents who travel to other areas to obtain abortion services.
Several states have taken note of the Supreme Court’s recent decision to upend abortion rights. instituted anti-abortion lawsMany jurisdictions restrict the time or manner in which individuals can have an abortion. Others ban the entire procedure. Some states are considering passing additional legislationThey could impose penalties or fines on residents who travel across state lines to get an abortion in a legal state.
The “Freedom to Travel for Health Care Act of 2022,” sponsored by Sens. Patty Murray (D.Washington) & Catherine Cortez Masto, (D.Nevada), cosponsored by a number other Democratic senators. would disallow states from imposing such restrictions.
The bill recognizes that the “right to travel freely and voluntarily among the several States is one of the chief privileges and immunities guaranteed to all citizens of the United States…under the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause,” according to its text. It also cites the constitutional powers of Congress to regulate commerce, as well as Supreme Court precedent recognizing that a person who travels from one state to another is granted the “privileges and immunities” of the state they are visiting.
The bill explicitly forbids states from attempting 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.”
“Restricting women’s right to travel across state lines is truly radical — and un-American,” Murray said in a statement. “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.”
“This legislation would make it clear that anti-choice states can’t prosecute women who travel to another state for reproductive care, and it would also protect reproductive health care providers and others who help women travel for the care they need and deserve,” Cortez Masto said.
Although the measure will likely get support in the House, the bill’s chances in the Senate are slim, as it’s likely that anti-abortion Republicans will utilize the filibuster rule to block its passage. A pair of Republican senators, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine, have expressed a willingness to support pro-abortion legislation in the past — but when such a bill came to a vote on the Senate floor, both voted against its passageIt was too broad, claimed he.
It’s unclear as yet where they may stand on a bill protecting the right to travel to get an abortion, but even with their support, the bill will likely fall short of the 60-vote threshold needed to overcome a filibuster.