Klobuchar cosponsored legislation today to safeguard a woman’s right to cross state lines to seek reproductive health care
WASHINGTON – At a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing titled, “A Post-Roe America: The Legal Consequences of the Dobbs Decision,” U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) emphasized how the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade means that women will be treated differently under the law than men and their right to access an abortion will be subject to a patchwork of laws across the country.
Today, she co-sponsored legislation led by Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) to safeguard a woman’s right to cross state lines to seek reproductive health care. The Freedom to Travel for Health Care Act would protect health care providers in pro-choice states from prosecution for serving individuals traveling from other states, and empower federal law enforcement and impacted individuals to bring civil action against those who restrict a woman’s right to cross state lines to receive legal reproductive care.
“For nearly 50 years, Roe v. Wade protected a woman's right to make her own health care decisions, ensuring that women, their families, and their doctors were in charge of the most personal choices in their life, not politicians. This ruling means that not only will women receive different treatment under the law than men, but there will be, as we've discussed today, a patchwork of laws across the country,” said Klobuchar at the hearing.
“I'm very proud that our state has stood up, in Minnesota, for reproductive rights of women,” Klobuchar continued. “After the Dobbs decision, I met with a group of health care workers from the Planned Parenthood clinic in Moorhead, Minnesota and I talked to the head of the Red River Falls women's clinic in Fargo, North Dakota. She has resorted to a GoFundMe page in order to make sure that she can keep providing services in the upper Midwest and in fact is moving her clinic to Minnesota. All of the providers that I've talked to have been resolute in their desire to serve the healthcare needs of women.”
Klobuchar also voiced her concern over the data privacy risks for women seeking reproductive health care. In May, she and Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) urged the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to protect the data privacy of women seeking abortion services and other reproductive health care.
Earlier this week, Klobuchar and Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) called on Facebook and Instagram to address the platforms’ reported censorship of posts related to abortion services.
Sen. Klobuchar: Thank you very much Senator Durbin. And by the way, thank you for that answer. That was, going through the names I think really reiterates to many people up here that we condemn violence. But there have been a lot of people who've lost their lives simply by trying to guarantee women what were once their guaranteed rights under the Constitution, and now is in our hands. For nearly 50 years, Roe v. Wade protected a woman's right to make her own health care decisions, ensuring that women, their families, and their doctors were in charge of the most personal choices in their life, not politicians.
This ruling means that not only will women receive different treatment under the law than men, but there will be, as we've discussed today, a patchwork of laws across the country. Look at what we're seeing right now: Louisiana passed a law that subjects abortion providers to criminal penalties. In Missouri, a bill was recently introduced that would allow private citizens to sue people who helped women leave the state to get abortion care and Mississippi's Governor refused to roll out banning contraception.
So as Senator Durbin noted, our state, like Illinois, is also an island in the heartland. But a good place and I'm very proud that our state has stood up, in Minnesota, for reproductive rights of women. After the Dobbs decision, I met with a group of health care workers from the Planned Parenthood clinic in Moorhead, Minnesota and I talked to the head of the Red River Falls women's clinic in Fargo, North Dakota. She has resorted to a GoFundMe page in order to make sure that she can keep providing services in the upper Midwest and in fact is moving her clinic to Minnesota. All of the providers that I've talked to have been resolute in their desire to serve the healthcare needs of women. So I would start with you, Dr. Bridges, because Minnesota is surrounded by states with abortion restrictions. Providers expect to see 10 to 25 percent more people coming to our state. Can you talk about the strain that a sudden increase in women seeking care has on both patients and providers?
Prof. Bridges: Absolutely, I can speak on that. But I also will invite the Lieutenant Governor Stratton to weigh in as well. We saw that after Texas passed and SB8, effectively ending abortion in the state after six weeks of pregnancy before most people know that they are pregnant. There was an incredible influx of patients from Texas in clinics in the surrounding states, Oklahoma and Kansas. Some clinics reported a 1000 percent increase in patients from Texas after SB8 went into effect. Some clinics in Kansas provided information that 50 percent of their clients were now from Texas. So that makes it difficult, of course, for people from Texas to access abortion care, because now they have to travel hundreds of miles for abortion care. But it also makes it difficult for the residents of Oklahoma and Kansas to access the care in their states, because the supply simply cannot meet the demand.
Sen. Klobuchar: And given some of the things I mentioned, are you concerned that under the court's sweeping decision, there are no limits on what states can do to make it nearly impossible for women to seek care?
Prof. Bridges: So there are limits right? I mentioned Sáenz versus Roe, which was decided in 1999, in which the Supreme Court held that there was a constitutional right to travel. However, we have seen that the Supreme Court cares very little for precedent. The Supreme Court doesn't feel bound by precedent. And so if that precedent leads to a result that it doesn't like we can expect it to be reversed, just as we saw Roe reversed simply because of the membership of the court.
Sen. Klobuchar: Okay, one last question. I'm concerned that private health data could put providers and people seeking abortions at risk. One report showed that it only costs about $160 to buy a week's worth of location data on people who visited Planned Parenthood. That's why Senator Baldwin and I have partnered together to urge the FTC to regulate data brokers who are selling data about people seeking abortions. Yesterday, the FTC issued a statement committing to fully enforcing the law against illegal use of highly sensitive data in the wake of the Dobbs decision. Do you agree that it is important to protect data privacy, particularly in states that have outlawed abortion?
Prof. Bridges: It is essential that we protect data privacy whenever we're online, we leave a digital footprint. That footprint can now be used as incriminating evidence if prosecutors are interested in pressing criminal charges against people seeking basic health care.
Sen. Klobuchar: Okay, very, very good. Thank you. Just one last thing, Lieutenant Governor if you wanted to add anything on the front of the states like Illinois and Minnesota and the impact on these states?
Lt Gov. Stratton: I want to begin Senator by acknowledging the great leadership in the state of Minnesota. And I will also just add to your question regarding the protection of data and privacy issues. We know that the potential criminalization of patients coming to our state is certainly of top of mine in Illinois. But it's not just the patients, it's also the abortion care providers that also could potentially risk that same sort of criminalization and so we are working with our state's leaders who are gathering to talk about how we can continue to expand and further enshrine reproductive rights into state law, because again, everyone should be able to feel safe and be able to have access to health care between them and their physician.
Sen. Klobuchar: Very good and our Governor Tim Walz and Peggy Flanagan, our lieutenant governor, I know have great respect, as I do, for you and Governor Pritzker. So thank you very much.