Senate Hearing on State Abortion Travel Bans Turns into Partisan Theater


The Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Federal Courts, Oversight, Agency Action, and Federal Rights held a hearing on state abortion travel bans, but the event devolved into a partisan circus.

The hearing, titled “Crossing the Line: Abortion Bans and Interstate Travel for Care After Dobbs,” featured two panels, but the committee failed to provide a comprehensive discussion of the issue. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), the subcommittee chairman, opened the hearing by highlighting his opposition to certain state laws, including Alabama’s law that prohibits aiding a woman in leaving the state for an abortion. He voiced support for the “Freedom to Travel for Healthcare Act” and emphasized his commitment to abortion rights.

Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA), the ranking member, responded by providing context on the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision and emphasizing that the American people should be able to decide on abortion rights within their states. However, the hearing quickly became marred by emotional appeals and partisan grandstanding.

The first panel consisted of individuals invited by the chairman and ranking member, including Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) and Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-NY). The panel’s composition was unclear, as a former federal prosecutor and business attorney were included, but their testimonies were brief and focused on political posturing.

The second panel featured notable advocates and experts on the issue, including Isaac Maddow-Zimet, a data scientist; Ingrid Skop, M.D., an obstetrician/gynecologist; Jocelyn Frye, president of the National Partnership for Women and Families; O. Carter Snead, a Notre Dame University law professor; and Lauren Miller, a Texas advocate. The panel’s makeup was more balanced, but the senators quickly disrupted the discussion by making emotional appeals and prioritizing sound bites over substance.

The hearing was embarrassing, as it could have been used to highlight the consequences and impacts of state abortion travel bans on women who travel to access abortion. Instead, senators on both sides used the platform to advance their political agendas, ignoring the need for a nuanced discussion of the issue.

Hailey King
Hailey King
Editorial Intern.

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