Senate Democrats on Thursday introduced a bill that would help fund expenses for women who need to travel to undergo abortion procedures.
“Right now in states across the country, Americans are unable to make their own health care decisions. Women in states like Wisconsin are being forced to travel out of state just to see a doctor for critical health care, including abortion. And for too many, the cost of travel, child care, overnight housing, and time away from work puts safe, comprehensive reproductive care totally out of reach,” said Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) in a statement.
Baldwin and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wa.) are introducing the Reproductive Health Travel Fund Act would authorize $350 million annually in grants over the next five years for organizations and abortion funds to help cover the cost of patients’ travel for the procedure.
The funds would include associated expenses for lodging, childcare and meals during the travel— as well as translation and patient education services.
The proposal comes in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision this summer to overturn Roe v. Wade and hand the power to allow, restrict or prohibit abortion over to the states, which greenlighted some places to enact and enforce strict abortion bans.
Women seeking abortion procedures in states with bans are now forced to travel long distances to access medical care legally.
The Journal of the American Medical Association found in a recent study that the average travel time for women seeking abortion services has more than tripled since the fall of Roe.
Democrats have been looking for ways to protect women traveling interstate for the medical care, while some conservatives have been eyeing ways to penalize those who do so.
“In overturning Roe and passing one extreme state abortion ban after the next, Republicans have unleashed a full-fledged health care crisis that is jeopardizing women’s health and forcing them to stay pregnant against their will,” Murray said.
“Every woman deserves to have control over her own body and be able to get the care she needs—no matter what state she lives in—and that’s what this proposal will help deliver,” the senator added.
Baldwin and Murray’s bill would have the Treasury Secretary award the grants to nonprofits, community-based organizations and other eligible entities that help women access the procedure, with priority given to groups that serve women from areas where abortion care is banned or restricted.