GOP Sen. James Lankford Blocks Bill Protecting Right To Interstate Travel For Abortion

by | Jul 14, 2022 | Politics

Democratic legislation that would protect the right to travel freely from state to state to seek abortion care was blocked in the Senate on Thursday by Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.).Lankford, who supports instituting a national ban on abortion, dismissed it as unnecessary and objected to a unanimous consent request from Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.).Advertisement“No state has banned interstate travel for adult women seeking to obtain an abortion. This seems to be just trying to inflame, to raise what-ifs,” he said on the Senate floor.The Freedom to Travel for Health Care Act, introduced by Cortez Masto and other Democrats earlier this week, would clarify the right to cross state lines to obtain reproductive health care services. It would also empower the U.S. attorney general and affected individuals to bring civil lawsuits against anyone who attempts to restrict that right.In his concurrence to Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which reversed the 50-year precedent that established a national right to an abortion, Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh sought to downplay the impact of the ruling in states where abortion is now illegal, writing that the “constitutional right to interstate travel” would enable women to “travel to another state to obtain an abortion.” But like the word “abortion,” the U.S. Constitution doesn’t explicitly mention the word “travel.” It is an enumerated right established under the First, Fifth, and 14th Amendments. Kavanaugh also appears to be alone on this front. No other justice in the Dobbs majority joined his concurrence. AdvertisementSen. James Lankford blocked a bill Thursday that would protect the right to travel freely from state to state to seek abortion care.Tom Williams via Getty ImagesDemocrats and reproductive rights groups fear that Republican-controlled states will exploit this gap and move to restrict travel and criminalize cross-state travel to seek abortion care. Anti-abortion groups and GOP lawmakers in some states are already signaling that’s where they’d like to go next. Indiana’s GOP attorney general said on Wednesday that his office planned to investigate the Indiana doctor who helped a 10-year-old rape victim who crossed state lines to have an abortion.Conservatives have also threatened employers who proceed with plans to cover their employees’ travel expenses for out-of-state abortions ― either with criminal liability or by moving to strip their tax breaks. Dozens of major companies, including Amazon, Disney, Apple and JPMorgan, have committed to do …

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