July 13, 2023

Warren, Senators Urge Justice Department to Do More to Protect Americans’ Right to Travel for Reproductive Health Care

“We encourage you to do all that you can to protect this right and request a briefing from the Reproductive Health Task Force”

Text of Letter (PDF)

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), and John Fetterman (D-Pa.) wrote to the Department of Justice (DOJ), urging the Department to protect the right to travel and constitutional right to interstate travel following state-level efforts to impede women’s right to travel to other states for abortion care. The lawmakers are also requesting a briefing to better understand DOJ’s assessment of these efforts.

More than one year after the Supreme Court ruled to ignore 50 years of precedent and overturn Roe v. Wade, 19 states have implemented near or total abortion bans, with many others implementing additional conflicting, vague, or restrictive laws that endanger the lives and health of millions of Americans. 

“Health care providers have explained that these laws ‘are condemning patients to delays in abortion care’ because patients must often cross state lines to receive essential health care,” wrote the lawmakers. “Some states are now taking the extraordinary step of criminalizing women’s right to travel to other states for abortion care.”

After the Court’s ruling, Attorney General Merrick Garland confirmed that the decision should not interfere with the constitutional right to travel. However, politicians in a number of states have begun efforts to infringe on access to abortion care by targeting this right. 

In May, Idaho implemented a law prohibiting any adult from helping a young person travel to another state to receive abortion care with the intent to conceal an abortion from a parent or guardian, even if the pregnancy is a result of incest or parental abuse. This week, advocates filed a lawsuit against Idaho Attorney General Raúl Labrador hoping to overturn the law.

Other states are also considering dangerous and restrictive laws to prevent Americans from traveling to access reproductive care. In January, lawmakers in Iowa proposed legislation that would criminalize providers offering care to out-of-state patients. In both Texas and Tennessee, lawmakers are considering legislation that would prohibit any governmental entity from providing funding to assist people in obtaining abortion care, including costs associated with traveling out of state for abortion care.

“Given the work of many of our states to protect access to abortion care no matter whether a patient comes from the state or travels from another, we are alarmed by efforts in other states to curb interstate travel, which may present an unprecedented attack on Americans’ rights,” concluded the lawmakers. “We are writing to better understand DOJ’s assessment of efforts to infringe on Americans’ right to travel and the constitutional right to interstate travel.”