(The Hill) — GOP Sen. James Lankford (Okla.) on Thursday blocked a Democratic request to unanimously pass a bill seeking to protect interstate travel for an abortion.
Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), joined by a string of Democratic senators, had sought consent to pass a bill that would prevent states from punishing women who travel to other states where abortion is legal to get the procedure.
The measure would also protect health care providers who provide abortions to out-of-state patients.
“Does that child in the womb have the right to travel in their future?” Lankford said in objecting. “Do they get to live?”
“There’s a child in this conversation as well,” he added.
With full-scale legislation to codify Roe v. Wade lacking the votes to pass the upper chamber, Democrats have looked for other legislative responses after the Supreme Court struck down the nearly 50-year decision that established a constitutional right to abortion.
A series of Democratic senators had spoken in favor of the measure before the request Thursday.
Cortez Masto said the bill was needed to protect abortion providers even in states where abortion remains legal, saying she has heard of some who are worried about being sued if they provide abortions for out-of-state patients.
Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) pointed to reports that conservative groups are “right now drafting legislation to ban travel for abortion.”
While Democrats said the right to travel for abortion is constitutionally protected as well, they sought to provide additional protection in law.
“Anyone telling you this is not a threat is not paying attention,” Murray said.
Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) said that “if people from other states need to come to Colorado to access the care they need, Congress has the obligation to shield them from prosecution.”
“And we need to make sure that health care providers no matter where they are, Colorado and other states, are safe from prosecution, to say nothing of the women themselves, to say nothing of teenage girls themselves,” he continued.
“I can’t believe we’re even having this conversation on the floor of the United States Senate,” he added. “I can’t believe it. But that’s the America we live in now because of this Supreme Court.”