State abortion ban forces interstate travel, U.S. Senate panel hears • NC Newsline

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

Miller, whose family has lived in the Lone Star State for eight generations, testified before a U.S. Senate panel Wednesday about the challenges she faced after learning in 2022 that the brain of one of the twins was not developing properly and about were semi-liquid.

“One of our twin sons was going to die. It was just a matter of how fast,” Miller testified. “And every day he continued to grow, he put his twin brother and myself in more and more danger.”

The fear was complicated by Texas’ strict restrictions on abortion, which left Miller seeking treatment options without the help of her doctors.

Miller testified that fortunately she had an old friend she could trust who was a gynecologist, who understood the landscape of abortion laws and knew doctors who could help diagnose her.

“Luckily she knew a gynecologist in Colorado, in a safe state,” Miller testified. “And I’ll never forget being on the phone with him and his first words were, ‘My feet are on the ground in Colorado, and I can answer anything you ask.’”

Miller said the best option for her and her family was a single reduction of the fetus, but that was technically an abortion and she couldn’t get one in Texas.

While discussing how to travel, she and her husband debated leaving their cell phones at home and using only cash for fear of being tracked or prosecuted for traveling for the procedure. But they ended up taking a flight instead of driving because of how sick she was at the time.

“We didn’t tell anyone what happened,” Miller said Wednesday. “We didn’t tell anyone what we had done because we were so scared.”

Interstate travel bill

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

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

Cortez Masto testified before the committee Wednesday that her home state has seen a dramatic increase in the number of patients traveling for abortion care over the past two years and that the bill would protect these people and their doctors.

“Our legislation reaffirms that women have a fundamental right to travel between states and makes it crystal clear that states cannot prosecute women or anyone who helps them for going to another state to get the crucial reproductive care they need ,” said Cortez Masto. “The Freedom to Travel for Healthcare Act would also protect healthcare providers in pro-choice states like Nevada who help these women travel from out of state.”

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

Right to travel

Jocelyn Frye, president of the National Partnership for Women and Families in Washington, D.C., testified at the hearing that efforts to ban travel are “deeply problematic, inconsistent with longstanding constitutional protections and Supreme Court precedent, and even more would cause more disruption to our healthcare system.”

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

“The attempts to really hinder 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 a lot of things, our ability to move from state to state on our own is a fundamental principle.”

Frye also referenced Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s concurring opinion in the case overturning the constitutional right to abortion, in which he affirmed that people seeking abortions have the right to travel between states.

Kavanaugh wrote: “For example, may a state prohibit a resident of that state from traveling to another state to obtain an abortion? In my opinion, the answer is no, based on the constitutional right to interstate travel.”