Empower Wisconsin | Dec. 12, 2022
MADISON — Wisconsin’s junior senator wants federal taxpayers to cover travel and other abortion-related costs in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling overturning Roe v. Wade.
U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Madison) introduced a bill last week creating a federal grant program to pay for “travel-related expenses and logistical support for individuals with respect to accessing abortion services, and for other purposes.” The grants would cover round-trip travel, lodging, childcare, translation, and doula services, according to the legislation.
In total, Baldwin is seeking $350 million per year through fiscal year 2027 to fund abortion assistance to “individuals who live in a jurisdiction that has banned or severely restricted access to abortion.” The price tag is buried at the bottom of the bill.
Grants would be provided to community-based and non-profit organizations, such as Planned Parenthood, that assist women seeking abortions.
Following the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision this past summer that put the power to determine abortion law back in the hands of states, Wisconsin’s 173-year-old ban on abortion went back into effect. The law makes it a felony to perform an abortion unless it is done to save the life of the mother.
“Women in states like Wisconsin are being forced to travel out of state just to see a doctor for critical health care, including abortion,” Baldwin said. “And for too many, the cost of travel, child care, overnight housing, and time away from work puts safe, comprehensive reproductive care totally out of reach. By reducing the costs of travel for people seeking reproductive care, more Americans will be able to make the health care decisions that are best for their family, health, and future.”
The federal Hyde Amendment blocks federal Medicaid funds to pay for abortions outside of exceptions for rape, incest or if the mother’s life is a risk. Baldwin’s bill, co-authored by Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), cannot be used to directly fund abortions.
U.S. Rep. Marilyn Strickland (D-Wash.) introduced a similar version of the abortion assistance bill earlier this year. That measure, co-sponsored by U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI 2nd CD), has stalled. Baldwin’s bill is likely to do the same.
Meanwhile, the Illinois abortion industry continues to hum. Planned Parenthood clinics in the Land of Lincoln in July said they were seeing a tenfold increase in the number of Wisconsin women seeking an abortion.