State abortion bans forcing interstate travel, US Senate panel hears

WASHINGTON — When Lauren Miller was flying from her home state of Texas to Colorado two years ago, as the plane took off, she felt a moment of relief — not because she was delayed for hours or because she needed a vacation, but because she was about to meet doctors who could treat her complicated pregnancy with twins.

Miller, whose family has been in the Lone Star State for eight generations, testified Wednesday before a U.S. Senate panel about the struggles she faced when she learned in 2022 that one of her twins’ brain was not developing properly and was approximately half liquid.

“One of our twin sons was going to die. It was just a matter of how fast,” Miller testified. “And with each day he continued to grow, he put me and his twin at greater and greater risk.”

The fear was complicated by Texas’ strict abortion restrictions, which forced Miller to seek treatment without medical assistance.

Miller testified that fortunately she had a long-time friend she could trust who was an obstetrician-gynecologist who understood the abortion law situation and knew doctors who could facilitate with her diagnosis.

“Fortunately, she knew an OB-GYN in Colorado who was in a safe condition,” Miller testified. “And I’ll never forget when I talked to him on the phone and his first words were, ‘I’m down to earth in Colorado and I can answer any question.'”

Miller determined that the best option for her and her family would be a single-fetal reduction, but it was technically an abortion and she could not have it performed in Texas.

When discussing how to travel, she and her husband considered leaving their cell phones at home and using only cash for fear of being tracked or penalized for traveling for the procedure. However, they ended up flying instead of driving because of how ailing she was at the time.

“We haven’t told anyone what happened,” Miller said Wednesday. “We didn’t tell anyone what we did because we were so afraid.”

Interstate travel bill

The hearing on interstate travel was considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Federal Courts, Oversight, Agency Operations, and Federal Rights.

The panel’s Democratic chairman, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, said Congress should pass legislation Nevada Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, who would affirm that people have the right to travel between states to obtain reproductive health care.

On Wednesday, Cortez Masto testified before the committee that the number of patients traveling for abortions has increased dramatically in her home state over the past two years and that the bill would protect those people and their doctors.

“Our legislation affirms that women have a fundamental right to interstate travel and makes clear that states cannot prosecute women, or anyone who assists them, for traveling to another state to obtain the necessary reproductive care they need,” Cortez stated Masto. “The Health Care Freedom to Travel Act would also protect health care providers in pro-choice states like Nevada who help women traveling from out of state.”

The right to travel is already fundamental across the United States, but several GOP states have begun looking for ways to prevent their residents from traveling for abortions.

The right to travel

Jocelyn Frye, president of the National Partnership for Women and Families in Washington, testified at the hearing that attempted travel bans are “highly problematic, inconsistent with longstanding constitutional protections and Supreme Court precedent, and would cause even greater disruptions to everyday life.” our health care system.”

Frye told senators that the right to travel between states “is one of the foundations” of the United States, which was included in the Articles of Confederation, which was approved before the Constitution, although the right is also found in that document.

“Efforts to actually impede the right to travel really go to the heart of our constitution and our democracy.” Frye said. “And you know, even in a world where people disagree on many issues, our ability to move from state to state of our own accord is a fundamental principle.”

Frye also addressed Supreme Court Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s concurring opinion invalidating the constitutional right to abortion, in which he affirmed that people seeking an abortion have the right to travel between states.

Kavanaugh wrote: “For example, can a state prohibit a resident of that state from traveling to another state for an abortion? In my opinion, the answer is not based on a constitutional right to interstate travel.”

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