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Roe v. Wade anniversary: Legislators push to restore the right to seek abortion care

Crystal Graham
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On the one-year anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, legislators have introduced a bill to protect the right of women to cross state lines to seek abortion care.

The Freedom to Travel for Health Care Act comes in response to some states who have worked to block travel for abortion services. The legislation would also empower the Attorney General and impacted individuals to bring civil action against those who restrict a woman’s right to cross state lines to receive legal reproductive care.

The legislation would also protect health care providers in states including Virginia, where abortion is still legal in most cases, from prosecution and lawsuits for serving individuals traveling from other states.

States including Idaho, Tennessee, Texas and Missouri are working to punish women for leaving their state for reproductive care and the doctors and employers who help them.

“We said when we filed the bill, we acknowledge we don’t have the votes yet, but we think the experience of Americans in a post-Dobbs world watching their rights being taken away, reading horrible stories,” said U.S. Sen Tim Kaine (D-VA) in a press briefing Thursday. “Our hope is as Americans see the reality of post-Dobbs, more and more of my colleagues will decide we need to enshrine a basic statutory protection for women’s reproductive freedom.

“We just had primary elections in Virginia on Tuesday, and I think the results of these primary elections show overwhelmingly that Virginians, however their own personal feelings and personal decisions about pregnancy, reproduction, contraception, abortion, whatever their personal feelings and decisions, they do want women to have legal access to make these decisions for themselves. I think that was overwhelmingly clear in the primary elections Tuesday in Virginia.”

Kaine said he doesn’t think Virginia is any different than other parts of the country.

“So I think the popular will on this is absolutely clear. And when the popular will is clear, usually Congress will catch up to it. And I think we’ve got the bill out there. That’s the vehicle to make this happen,” Kaine said.

Congresswoman Jennifer McClellan (VA-04) also weighed in on the one-year anniversary.

“One year ago, a conservative Supreme Court overturned 50 years of judicial precedent set forth in Roe v. Wade, stripping Americans of the federal right to an abortion,” said McClellan. “Since that time, we have witnessed the increasingly devastating impacts the ruling has had on ordinary Americans, doctors and our healthcare system.

“Abortion bans also undermine the efficacy of our healthcare systems and force doctors to make impossible choices between providing critical, life-saving care or following these extreme laws. Government should not insert itself into the healthcare decisions made between patients and their medical providers.

“This week, I signed a discharge petition to demand an immediate vote on the Women’s Health Protection Act, of which I am an original cosponsor, to codify the legal framework of Roe into federal law.

“I will never stop fighting to preserve reproductive freedom in our nation. American lives depend on it.”

Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.