Think women should have freedom of travel? These KY Repub reps don’t

Bruce Maples
Bruce Maples

One of the dystopian story lines that has been floated about the loss of Roe is forced-birth states stopping women at the borders of the state and arresting them if they are crossing state lines to obtain an abortion. These scenarios were based on the possibility of such state laws being passed.

And if that seems far-fetched, here’s a quote from the Washington Post in a 6/30 story:

The National Association of Christian Lawmakers, an antiabortion organization led by Republican state legislators, has begun working with the authors of the Texas abortion ban to explore model legislation that would restrict people from crossing state lines for abortions, said Texas state representative Tom Oliverson (R), the charter chair of the group’s national legislative council.

“Just because you jump across a state line doesn’t mean your home state doesn’t have jurisdiction,” said Peter Breen, vice president and senior counsel for the Thomas More Society. “It’s not a free abortion card when you drive across the state line.”

The “Ensuring Access to Abortion” Act

In response to such laws being considered, Rep. Lizzie Fletcher (D-TX) introduced the “Ensuring Access to Abortion Act” (H.R. 8297). According to the Causes site, this will would

“prohibit any person acting under state law from preventing, restricting, impeding, or retaliating against:

  • Healthcare providers who provide legal abortion services to out-of-state residents;
  • Any person or entity who helps healthcare providers to provide such services;
  • Any person who travels to another state to obtain such services;
  • Any person or entity who helps another person travel to another state to obtain such services; or
  • The movement in interstate commerce of drugs that are approved to terminate pregnancies.”

The bill was passed by the U.S. House on July 15 by a vote of 223-205.

And guess how our state’s Republican representatives voted.

All five of them — Jamie Comer, Brett Guthrie, Thomas Massie, Hal Rogers, and Andy Barr – voted NO. In other words, they voted to allow states, including their own, to limit the freedom of women to travel out of state for abortion access.

You may be thinking “well, that’s just a narrow case. Of course they voted that way.” But remember – one of the marks of an authoritarian government is restriction of travel. And now Republicans across the country, and in Kentucky, are proposing to restrict travel for a particular group of people.

When do they start restricting travel for other reasons, or for other groups? Could they decide to prevent gun-safety advocates from traveling to a rally in D.C.? Or arrest people coming to Kentucky for the same purpose?

How about preventing union members from leaving the state to support other union workers in a local strike?

Or preventing teachers from taking their students to, say, the Holocaust Museum in D.C., or to the National Museum of African American History & Culture?

For now, H.R. 8297 has passed the House, but sits in the Senate, where Mitch McConnell will, of course, ensure it never sees the light of day. That was expected from the beginning.

But even though everyone knew it would fail in the Senate, it was deemed important to get lawmakers in the House on the record on this issue. So they took the vote.

And the five Republicans from Kentucky voted No.

If the Republicans take the House in 2023, will these five then vote to allow the state to prevent women from leaving to get an abortion?

I think we know the answer.

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Bruce Maples has been involved in politics and activism since 2004, when he became active in the Kerry Kentucky movement. (Read the rest of his bio on the Bruce Maples Bio page in the bottom nav bar.)


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