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Republican senators block legislation to allow travel across state lines for abortion

’This seems to be trying to inflame, to raise the ‘what-ifs’, Republican Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma says

Eric Garcia
Thursday 14 July 2022 21:36 BST
Senator Cortez Masto plans legislation to allow cross-state abortion travel

Republican senators blocked legislation by Democrats on Thursday that would have allowed for people to travel across state lines to seek an abortion.

The legislation was proposed by Senators Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada and Patty Murray of Washington state and came amid news stories of a 10-year-old girl who was raped in Ohio and was forced to travel to Indiana, where abortion is still legal, to seek a pregnancy termination.

“Because there are states right now that are limiting or trying to criminalising it or turning it into a civil action against women who are trying to seek the services, and criminalised and or civil penalties against providers in states where the services are being provided,” Ms Cortez Masto, who is up for reelection in Nevada, said.

“The Constitution has protected the right to travel for over 150 years, it's essential to our democratic system, and the fact that we have a republic. to take away women's right to travel across state lines and actionable, and goes far beyond undermining her right to privacy”, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, another sponsor of the legislation, told The Independent.

It also came in response to lawmakers in places like Missouri who have sought to pass legislation that would prohibit the ability to travel to seek an abortion in states with fewer restrictions on abortion.

But Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma objected to an attempt to pass the legislation by unanimous consent.

“To be clear, no state has banned interstate travel for adult women seeking to obtain an abortion,” Mr Lankford said. “This seems to be trying to inflame, to raise the ‘what-ifs.’”

But Ms Cortez Masto pushed back, saying the legislation is a states rights issue, since Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito wrote in his majority opinion overturning Roe v Wade that abortion should be referred back to the states.

“All my legislation says is respect my state. We are a choice state,” she said. “If women want to travel to my state to seek services and providers want to provide those services, and employers want to help women travel, let the states travel.”

Ms Cortez Masto noted that Nevada has codified abortion protections and took exception to saying that the practice would be considered trafficking women.

“This is not trafficking and for anyone to stand up and say [that] this is has a complete misunderstanding,” she said. “That is so offensive but I am not surprised because in this day and age, some of these radical ideas coming out of this Congress miss what is happening across the country.”

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