Despite Republican opposition, Democrats passed a bill to affirm the right to cross state lines for abortion care in response to attempts by anti-choice lawmakers to ban such travel.
While reproductive rights advocates and many Democrats on Friday welcomed the U.S. House of Representatives’ passage of a bill protecting the right to travel for abortion care, Congressman Bill Pascrell Jr. called out GOP lawmakers who opposed the legislation.
“Today 99% of House Republicans made clear they support forcing raped children to give birth to their rapist’s child,” declared the New Jersey Democrat after the House approved the Ensuring Access to Abortion Act in a 223-205 vote.
Just three Republicans—Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick (Pa.), Adam Kinzinger (Ill.), and Fred Upton (Mich.)—joined Democrats in supporting the bill, and another three—Reps. Liz Cheney (Wyo.), Anthony Gonzalez (Ohio), and Nancy Mace (S.C.)—did not vote on it.
The development comes as the story of a 10-year-old rape victim forced to travel from Ohio to Indiana for an abortion has garnered national attention, and as anti-choice groups and state lawmakers are crafting legislation to try to prevent people from traveling for such care.
‘If Republicans had their way, this would be a country of forced birth’ — Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA) slammed Republicans for their response to the rape of a 10-year-old in Ohio, who had to travel to Indiana to receive abortion care pic.twitter.com/cuvoMboeD6
— NowThis (@nowthisnews) July 15, 2022
In the case of the Ohio child, Indiana’s Republican attorney general has launched an investigation into the provider—even though a probe by her employer found that she did not violate privacy laws and records show that the doctor properly reported the abortion to state officials.
Reproductive freedom advocates fear other patients and healthcare providers will be similarly targeted now that the June reversal of Roe v. Wade has empowered states to crack down on abortion rights.
Congressman Tom Malinowski (D-N.J.) and journalist Dell Cameron envisioned a world in which police “interrogate women on the highway” in states with anti-choice laws—warnings reminiscent of a May video that previewed a dystopian post-Roe future.
NARAL Pro-Choice America president Mini Timmaraju on Friday praised House Democrats for advancing both the Ensuring Access to Abortion Act and the Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA), which would affirm the right to abortion nationwide.
“Time and again Democratic leaders have demonstrated their unwavering commitment to reproductive freedom in this dire moment for abortion rights and access, and they’ve reaffirmed that today,” she said.
Timmaraju also called out Republicans who opposed the bills, warning that “when Americans head to the polls to vote this November, they will remember which politicians failed them.”
We should ALWAYS have a right to travel for our health care, which includes crossing state lines for abortion access.
— Planned Parenthood Action (@PPact) July 15, 2022
Congresswoman Lizzie Fletcher (D-Texas)—who introduced the Ensuring Access to Abortion Act last week with Reps. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) and Marilyn Strickland (D-Wash.)—also welcomed the passage of both her bill and WHPA.
“While lawmakers and others in several states, including my home state of Texas, are threatening to interfere with the constitutional right of Americans to travel freely and voluntarily within the United States, Congress is putting on notice anyone who, acting under color of state law, attempts to introduce laws that restrict that right,” she said.
“Congress must take swift action to protect individuals affected by people trying to interfere with their right to travel,” she added, thanking her co-sponsors.
Today the House passed my bill with @RepFletcher & @RepStricklandWA protecting women’s right to travel across state lines for an abortion, and again passed landmark legislation ensuring abortion access nationwide. The Senate must reject the filibuster and act now.
— Rep. Jamie Raskin (@RepRaskin) July 15, 2022
Despite House Democrats’ votes, neither bill is expected to reach President Joe Biden’s desk, due to the evenly split Senate and the filibuster that effectively gives the GOP veto power over most legislation.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.)—one of a few Democrats in the chamber opposed to ending the filibuster—has repeatedly joined with Republicans to impede a final vote on WHPA, and Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) on Thursday blocked another travel rights bill.
After Lankford’s move to prevent the passage of the Freedom to Travel for Health Care Act, Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), a co-sponsor, said of the GOP: “Let’s be really clear what that means: They want to hold women captive in their own states.”
Editors’ note: It can’t be emphasized enough that the freedom to travel between states without impediment is a constitutionally protected right. If the states can restrict movement in this manner, what will be their next target? Will we have checkpoints at every state border?