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Murray, Cortez Masto, Whitehouse, Gillibrand Introduce Bill to Protect Women’s Right to Travel Across State Lines to Seek Abortion Care

***WATCH: Senators Murray, Cortez Masto, Gillibrand hold press conference***

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee (HELP), and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) led a group of their Democratic colleagues, including Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), in introducing the Freedom to Travel for Health Care Act of 2022 to protect every woman’s constitutional right to travel across states lines to receive abortion care—and the providers who care for them.


“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.”


“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.” 


“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.”


“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 Washington from prosecution and lawsuits for serving individuals traveling from other states.


In addition to Senators Cortez Masto, Whitehouse, Murray, and Gillibrand, the legislation is also cosponsored by Senators 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), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), 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.).


Since the leaked draft revealed the Supreme Court was planning to overturn Roe, Senator Murray has been a leader in the Senate pushing back: immediately calling the decision a “five alarm fire,” pushing for a vote on the Women’s Health Protection Act so every Republican Senator was forced to show the American public where they stood, and leading her colleagues in the fight to protect everyone’s reproductive rights. Senator Murray has led her colleagues in urging the Biden administration to craft an all-of-government plan to protect abortion rights. She called out data brokers’ collection and sale of sensitive location data that could put those seeking abortion care at risk—and introduced legislation to ban the practice outright. She introduced legislation condemning the criminalization of the full range of reproductive and sexual health care. Senator Murray also introduced legislation to expand access to affordable, over-the-counter birth control—and has led efforts in Congress to ensure patients can get the birth control they need without being forced to jump through unnecessary hoops or pay out-of-pocket.


In the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling, Senator Murray has led her colleagues in calling on the Biden administration to take bold action to protect Americans’ reproductive rights—and will hold a hearing tomorrow on reproductive health care in a post-Roe America and the barriers, challenges, and threats it poses to women’s health.


Read full text of the legislation here.