Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) and Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Chair of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP), sought unanimous consent to pass their bill to protect Americans’ fundamental right to travel across state lines—but Republican Senator James Lankford (R-Okla.) blocked the Freedom to Travel for Health Care Act of 2022. The legislation would protect every woman’s fundamental right to travel across state lines to receive abortion care—and protect the providers who care for them—as extreme Republican lawmakers seek to punish women for exercising their right to travel to get the care they need.
“Anti-choice state legislators in Missouri, Texas, and Arkansas have said they want to pass bills to fine or prosecute women who travel for health care, providers who offer abortion services, and the many employers who have said they will support their employees who need to seek reproductive care in another state,” said Senator Cortez Masto on the floor. “These bills are blatantly unconstitutional. They constrain the fundamental constitutional right to travel. They are anti-woman and anti-business. And merely proposing them has created profound uncertainty for patients, health care providers, insurers, and employers across the country.”
“Today, Republicans blocked vital legislation to protect women seeking critical health care,” said Senator Cortez Masto in a statement. “By objecting to my legislation, they’re allowing state legislators to reach across state lines to control not just what happens in their states, but what happens in every state across this country and to punish women for exercising their fundamental rights. It’s absolutely outrageous. I won’t stop fighting for women’s freedom”
“Republicans lawmakers have already set their sights on ripping away the right to travel. Let’s be really clear what that means: they want to hold women captive in their own states,” Senator Murray said on the floor. “They want to punish women—and anyone who might help them—for exercising their constitutional right to travel within our country to get the services they need in another state.”
“It should be hard to think of something more extreme, more barbaric, more un-American than ripping away women’s rights and forcing them to travel hundreds of miles to get an abortion. And yet, here Republicans stand, saying no. Saying to American women: ‘We don’t just want to control your bodies—we want to control your travel. We want to hold you captive in your state and force you to give birth.’ They should be ashamed of themselves,” Senator Murray said in a statement. “It’s disgraceful that anyone would object to making sure people can travel to other states for reproductive health care. It’s morally repugnant. By objecting to this bill, Republicans are rejecting any appearance of fighting for people’s rights, and embracing all-out oppression of women like never before.”
The Senators introduced the legislation earlier this week alongside Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and many of their Democratic colleagues. Legislation introduced in Missouri and draft legislation proposed by anti-choice extremists make clear that interstate travel for reproductive health care is under attack. The Freedom to Travel for Health Care Act of 2022 underscores the Constitutional protections for interstate travel and provides redress for women whose rights are violated. The legislation would also protect health care providers in pro-choice states from prosecution and lawsuits for serving individuals traveling from other states.
Read full text of the legislation here.