Republicans block passage of Senate bill guaranteeing freedom to travel across states for abortions

The Democratic bill, called the Freedom to Travel for Health Care Act 2022 was featured earlier this week by Sens. Patty Murray from Washington, Catherine Cortez Masto from Nevada, Sheldon Whitehouse from Rhode Island and Kirsten Gillibrand from New York. The bill would further protect providers in states that support abortion rights from lawsuits for helping women in other states.

Murray, who chairs the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, said GOP lawmakers across the country “have already decided to take away the right to travel.”

“Let’s be very clear what that means: they want to keep women captive in their own state,” she said. “They want to punish women and anyone who can help them for exercising their constitutional right to travel to our country to get the services they need in another state. I hope everyone is really watching how bad this is. extreme, radical and un-American.”

Senator Steve Daines, Republican of Montana, argued that the Senate should reject this “radical” bill because it would “give flying abortionists carte blanche to perform abortions on demand”. He also argued that it “protects the greed, frankly, of woke corporations who consider it cheaper to pay for abortion and abortion tourism than maternity leave for their employees.”

Cortez Masto, who made the request for unanimous consent to introduce the legislation, cited examples of lawmakers in states like Missouri, Texas and Arkansas who have said “they want to pass bills to inflict fines or prosecute women who travel for health care”.

What GOP lawmakers are proposing to do across the country to prevent women from traveling for reproductive care is “simply patently unconstitutional,” she continued. “They are anti-women, anti-business and anti-suppliers,” she said.

Sen. James Lankford, Republican of Oklahoma, who opposed the request, said in remarks to the Senate that the conversation is not just about the right to travel and the right to health care, it’s is deeper than that, it is the right to live.”

“To be very clear, no state has banned interstate travel for adult women seeking abortions,” Lankford added. “No state has done this. Now, am I sure there are people speaking out there? Yes, but there are also in this Senate 5,000 bills that have been introduced and how many ‘am going to actually move? As is the case in every legislature across the country and everyone in this body knows that.”

Lankford said Democrats were simply trying to “ignite” and “raise the assumptions.”

Cortez Masto said, “All my law says is: Respect my state. We are a state of choice. We made this decision as a state and if women want to come to my state to seek services, and my suppliers want to provide those services, and employers want to help women travel, so let the states do that.”

CNN’s Ted Barrett contributed to this report.

Norman D. Briggs