Sen. Smith Cosponsors Legislation to Protect the Right of Women to Cross State Lines to Seek Abortion Care

WASHINGTON, D.C. [07/12/22] – U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.) joined a group of her Democratic colleagues, including Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), in introducing the Freedom to Travel for Health Care Act of 2022. This legislation would make it crystal clear that it is illegal for anti-choice states to limit travel for abortion services and would empower the Attorney General and impacted individuals to bring civil action against those who restrict a woman’s right to cross state lines to receive legal reproductive care.

“After successfully overturning Roe and gutting 50 years of precedent that protected American women’s freedom to make their own decisions about abortion, extremist Republicans aren’t stopping there,” said Senator Smith. “We must do everything in our power to protect women’s constitutional right to travel to access lawful reproductive care. This bill will protect these women as well as the providers and others who help them get the care they need.” 

“After a radical Supreme Court shredded a longstanding constitutional right for women, we have to fight back to make sure women in anti-choice states do not also lose their ability to travel for abortion care. Emboldened legislatures in red states are readying even more extreme restrictions, so Congress needs to act now to protect the freedom to cross state lines – a tenet of American life since the country’s founding,” said Senator Whitehouse. “It’s also extremely important that we step in to shield medical professionals in Rhode Island from punishment for providing care to women who travel here.”

“As women’s reproductive rights are attacked across the country, we must do everything we can to protect women who will be forced to cross state lines to receive abortion services,” said Senator Cortez Masto. “This legislation would make it clear that anti-choice states can’t prosecute women who travel to another state for reproductive care, and it would also protect reproductive health care providers and others who help women travel for the care they need and deserve.” 

“Republicans have ripped away every woman’s right to decide whether or not to keep a pregnancy, and now some Republican lawmakers want to hold women captive in their own states by punishing them for exercising their constitutional right to travel within our country to get the care they need,” said Senator Murray. “Restricting women’s right to travel across state lines is truly radical—and un-American. Our bill would protect Americans’ constitutional right to travel across state lines to get a lawful abortion—and protect the providers who care for them. Even as Republicans go to the ends of the Earth to strip away our constitutional rights, Democrats are fighting back to protect them.”

“When the Supreme Court overturned Roe, it stripped half the population of their constitutional rights to privacy and bodily autonomy,” said Senator Gillibrand. “The Freedom to Travel for Health Care Act would reiterate women’s constitutional right to travel freely across state lines and empower the attorney general and individuals to take action against those who seek to block women from traveling to access reproductive care. It is critically important that we take action to fight against these attacks on our freedom and liberty.”

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 like Nevada from prosecution and lawsuits for serving individuals traveling from other states.

In addition to Senator Smith, the legislation is also cosponsored by Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Reverend Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Ben Ray Lujan (D-N.M), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and Jon Tester (D-Mont.).

Senator Smith has led efforts to protect women’s reproductive freedom, and repeatedly called on colleagues to codify Roe v. Wade into Law.  Last month, in anticipation of the Supreme Court overturning Roe, Smith introduced the Protecting Access to Medication Abortion Act, which would ensure that women can always access medication abortion through telehealth and certified pharmacies, including mail-order pharmacies. Weeks ago, after the Supreme Court’s Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision, she penned an op-ed with Senator Warren holding Republicans accountable for their attack on reproductive freedoms and calling on Democrats to use every tool available to protect and restore women’s reproductive rights.