Interstate travel becomes a problem in post-Roe America

Exterior window of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Waterbury Credit: Hugh McQuaid/CTNewsJunkie

US senators in Connecticut on Friday pushed for the passage of a federal bill to protect women from states where abortion has been banned who travel for surgery elsewhere.

Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy held a remote press conference with abortion advocates and health care providers to call for passage of the legislation, which Senate Republicans have blocked from proceeding with a quick vote Thursday.

Blumenthal called the failed attempt to push the bill forward unanimously as an “opening salvo.”

“We will push for this measure to receive a vote from the US Senate, with each member of the Senate held accountable for their vote,” Blumenthal said. “This measure is absolutely essential to prohibit any limits on interstate travel to receive abortion services.”

The bill comes less than a month after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the longstanding Roe v. Wade, who previously legalized abortion nationwide. Since then, a dozen states have moved quickly to ban abortion, and more are expected to follow suit.

The legislation attempts to prevent states from seeking to bar women from crossing state lines to access reproductive health services in states where abortion is still legal.

“Republicans said it was a solution looking for a problem,” Murphy said. “It’s nonsense. State legislatures across the country will pass laws that restrict women’s ability to travel in states like Connecticut and Congress must uphold the Constitutional right to travel and ensure interstate travel is always legal, possible. and practices.

So far, no state has passed legislation restricting interstate travel. However, a Missouri state legislator unsuccessfully proposed such language, according to Politico. In Connecticut, lawmakers this year passed a bill to protect health care providers who treat out-of-state women seeking abortion services.

At Friday’s press conference, Dr. Nicole Gavin, a fetal medicine specialist at UConn Health, told a series of stories about patients who had to abort in high-risk situations. She said she felt lucky to practice in a state where she could still provide needed services.

“Because of the many parts of this country where that right has been lost, we are going to see unprecedented numbers of patients traveling here to access care,” she said. “[The bill] allows women to cross state lines to receive health care safely. It would also allow me to continue to practice my work as a physician specializing in high-risk pregnancies without fear of civil lawsuits for saving the lives of women who wish to protect their reproductive rights.

Senators held Friday’s press conference as the House was expected to pass a similar bill later in the day as well as a separate measure that would codify Roe v. Wade as federal law. Although both bills are expected to pass the Democratic-controlled House, their fate in the divided Senate was unclear.

According to a Thursday report from NBC News, Senate Republicans were split on whether women should be able to travel to other states in order to receive abortion services, with some senators saying travel should not be limited.

Janée Woods Weber, executive director of the Connecticut Women’s Education and Legal Fund, said policies limiting travel would reduce women’s personal agency.

“Let’s be clear: restricting movement is not about sustaining life. It’s about controlling and subjugating women, especially women who lack resources and support systems,” Weber said.

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