On August 3, President Joe Biden signed an executive order directing the Department of Health and Human Services to look into using taxpayer dollars to finance out-of-state abortions. Pursuing a similar end, several House Democrats have proposed a new federal grant program to subsidize patients who wish to travel to another state to abort their children.
Democrat Reps. Marilyn Strickland (Wash.), Lizzie Fletcher (Texas), and Cori Bush (Mo.) — among the 18 members of Congress arrested during the same July 19 pro-abortion protest from which Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was "led away in invisible handcuffs" — introduced the bill (H.R. 8542) on July 20. It is intended to accompany the "Ensuring Access to Abortion Act" passed by the House earlier in the month, which claims to "safeguard the right to travel across state lines for abortion in federal law, by precluding state laws that prohibit it."
If passed, the Democrats' new bill, entitled the "Reproductive Health Travel Fund Act of 2022," would authorize grants to "eligible entities to pay for travel-related expenses and logistical support for individuals with respect to accessing abortion services, and for other purposes" for fiscal years 2023 through 2027.
Accordingly, $300 million per year over five years (totaling $1.5 billion) would be provided to select organizations such as Planned Parenthood and NARAL so that they may "help" pregnant women seeking abortions offset the costs of "transportation, food, lodging, childcare, translation, and doula services."
According to the bill, an organization qualifies if it will facilitate access to abortion by way of "unbiased" programs, services, or activities"; however, any organization that discourages individuals from seeking an abortion would be prevented from receiving funding.
Such organizations will be able to spend 15% of the taxpayer dollars awarded them via this fund on:
- "community outreach efforts";
- "physical infrastructure construction and maintenance";
- "website development and maintenance"; and
- "increasing staff capacity and training."
To avoid violating the Hyde Amendment outright, which prohibits the use of federal funds to pay for abortion, it is stipulated in the bill that "an eligible entity receiving a grant under this section shall not use the grant for costs of an abortion procedure."
Kristi Hamrick with Students for Life of America suggested that the bill would not only impact the Hyde Amendment, but also constitutes a misuse of funds "at a time in which taxpayers are really stressed with higher costs and higher inflation."
CBS47 reported that it is unlikely this bill will be approved both by the House and the Senate.
Similarly unlikely to pass is North Carolina Republican Rep. Madison Cawthorn's "Protect S.T.A.T.E. Lines Act," which would ban federal funding to transport a person over state lines to abort her child. GovTrack suggested it has a 1% chance of being enacted.