Congress passes bills to protect abortion travel

The bills being rushed to the floor show Democrats’ willingness to soften the impact of overturning the Supreme Court’s latest decision Roe v. Wadealthough they are very limited in what they can achieve legislatively.

Progressive lawmakers hope to apply political pressure to anyone who votes against the bills ahead of the November midterms. The bill’s three main sponsors in the Senate — Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (DN.Y.) – represent states that are now abortion destinations and are preparing for a flood of patients from more restrictive states.

“To suggest that women don’t have that right to travel is not only un-American, it’s incoherent,” Gillibrand told reporters Tuesday, adding that she doesn’t want doctors in her state to be “in question” prosecutors from others. declare if they perform an abortion on a traveling patient.

States haven’t banned travel – yet: No state has yet banned interstate travel for the purpose of obtaining reproductive care that is prohibited where they live, but a Missouri state lawmaker tried — unsuccessfully, so far — to attach such language some health bills even before the Supreme Court issued its decision. Lawmakers and conservative activists in other states have also discussed either criminalizing people who help transport patients across state lines or subjecting doctors to criminal penalties if they perform abortions on patients who live in states where abortion is illegal, even if it is legal. in the state where it was committed.

“States are looking to stop it,” Cortez Masto said Tuesday, explaining why she introduced a bill to prevent the restrictions that are not yet in place. “And we already know that it has a ripple effect as states work to criminalize doctors and criminalize women.”

While the measure is one of many abortion rights activists who have called in the wake of deerWith his death, progressive groups point out that it will only help people who can afford the time and expense of traveling potentially hundreds of miles for the procedure — something many people are unable to do.

Fast Congressional Action: Two-thirds of the Senate’s Democratic caucus signed on to co-sponsor draft law on the protection of travel rights Tuesday, including the majority leader Chuck Schumer and the Majority Whip Dick Durbin. That number still leaves them well short of the 60 votes they would need to pass bill. Even if every Democrat voted for the bill — a big if, given Sen. Joe Manchin(DW.Va.) vote against Democrats’ most comprehensive abortion rights bill in May — the bill may fail to get even a single Republican cosponsor.

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), whose state recently outlawed the procedure, called the bill “absurd.”

“How do you stop someone from traveling?” he told POLITICO. “This is nonsense. And they know it’s stupid, but they’re just trying to fool the American people into thinking they’re doing something important.”

Although it is likely to fail, Murray told reporters Tuesday that the Senate plans to try to bring the bill up on Thursday — a quick timeline that leaves little room for vote wrangling.

Meanwhile, a senior Democratic aide confirmed that the House bill, HR 8297is scheduled to speak this Friday.

The right to travel: The Constitution does not explicitly protect the right to travel, but decades of case law support a person’s right to move freely across state borders. UC Berkeley law professor Khiara Bridges, testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, pointed to the Supreme Court’s decision in Saenz v. deer by 1999, despite the absence of the term in the Constitution, the concept was “firmly embedded in our jurisprudence”.

“The Supreme Court interpreted the Constitution as protecting the right to travel,” Bridges said. “But this does not mean that the right is certain. We have seen in Dobbs that 50 years of precedent can be overturned depending on the composition of the court.”

Efforts to control travel between states at the height of the pandemic in 2020 were abandoned as unworkable, although many states continued to require visitors to quarantine.

“Travel should never be used to advance political or social agendas,” Tori Emerson Barnes, executive vice president of public affairs and policy at the US Travel Association, told POLITICO when asked about traveling through state lines to obtain an abortion. “Instead of effectively advancing the agendas of their advocates, travel bans and boycotts have great potential for harm and collateral damage to an industry, its workers, and its destinations.”

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