Democrats want to create federal travel fund for patients seeking abortion services

As more states enforce restrictive abortion bans, some House Democrats want to make it easier for pregnant people to access those services across state lines.

Since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade two months ago, Congresswoman Marilyn Strickland said Planned Parenthood in Washington State is already experiencing an influx of patients coming as far as Texas to access care.

“A lot of those women are people with the means to travel. It is unjust and inequitable to restrict access to safe reproductive health and safe and legal abortions to only people who can afford to travel,” said Rep. Strickland, (D – Washington).

She’s one of several Democrats who want to create a new federal grant program to help patients travel for abortion services.

The bill would provide $300 million a year through 2027 to organizations that work with pregnant people to help them cover the cost of travel expenses. This includes food, lodging, childcare and doula services.

“Abortion is not going to go away but we want people to have access to abortion that is safe and that is legal,” said Strickland.

Kristi Hamrick with Students for Life of America believes this proposal would impact the Hyde Amendment, which blocks federal funds from covering abortion services for people enrolled in Medicaid and other public programs.

“If Congress wants to start protecting women, let’s start with chemical abortion pills which are deadly and dangerous,” said Hamrick.

She also believes there are more pressing issues at stake.

“Especially at a time in which taxpayers are really stressed with higher costs and higher inflation, more money to abortion is just not what we’re looking for,” said Hamrick.

This bill will be discussed in committee. If it’s approved by both chambers, which is unlikely, then funding would be available starting next year through the Department of Health and Human Services.