Women who need to travel to another state to get an abortion could have their travel, lodging, meals and other costs defrayed under a new grant program proposed by Senate Democrats.
Sens. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., and Patty Murray, D-Wash., introduced legislation this week that would provide a $350 million per year grant program to help pay these costs for women. Total cost for the five-year program would be $1.75 billion, and the money would go to non-profit groups who can help women in states with strict abortion restrictions get to less-restrictive states to terminate their pregnancy.
The two senators said the bill would give women more options after the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade and left it up to states to regulate abortion as they see fit.
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“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. “This moment calls for bold solutions — and that’s why I’ve proposed creating a new, historic abortion fund and why I’m proud to cosponsor Senator Baldwin’s bill to help get women the abortion care they need.”
Baldwin’s home state of Wisconsin allows abortion up until 20 weeks of pregnancy, but she said women are being “forced to travel out of state just to see a doctor for critical health care, including abortion.”
“By reducing the costs of travel for people seeking reproductive care, more Americans will be able to make the health care decisions that are best for their family, health, and future,” she said.
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Under the bill, $350 million per year would be distributed to non-profit groups that can help women seek out an abortion. The money would be awarded by the Treasury Secretary and would be aimed at groups that help people in states with “severely restricted access to abortion” and people who are more likely to have to travel out of state to get an abortion on more favorable terms.
In addition to travel, lodging and meals, the subsidy can also cover childcare costs, translation services and post-procedure care, but not the cost of the procedure itself.
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roe v. Wade was struck down in June in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case that ended constitutional protection for abortion rights and returned the matter to the states. Since that ruling, Democrats have pushed for policies aimed at helping women travel to states with less restrictive abortion policies, which could let them obtain abortions later in their pregnancy than allowed in their home state.
The Defense Department reacted similarly, saying they would give service members time off and even fund some of the costs of traveling to another state for an abortion.