Cortez Masto Proposes Federal Aid For Overwhelmed Abortion Navigation Services

Democratic Nevada Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto reintroduced a invoice Thursday that might set up a federal grant program for abortion funds and group well being clinics, drawing inspiration from comparable applications for most cancers sufferers.

In the time since she final launched the invoice in December, organizations serving to sufferers cowl abortion-related prices ― together with journey, lodging and little one care once they should journey out of state for the process ― have turn into more and more overwhelmed as increasingly states enact post-Roe abortion bans, forcing extra sufferers than ever earlier than to hunt their assist in getting care lots of of miles away from residence.

“I think the federal government should support these groups and make it easier for patients to find them and work with them,” Cortez Masto mentioned.

“There are already programs out there that the federal government funds to help women connect with essential health care. Why should this be any different?” she continued, referencing comparable grant applications the federal authorities funds to assist most cancers sufferers navigate medical trials and supply different help.

The invoice, known as the Reproductive Health Patient Navigator Act, has a number of co-sponsors, together with Democratic Sens. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), Patty Murray (Wash.) and Amy Klobuchar (Minn.).

Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto speaks to the group throughout a rally outdoors the Supreme Court final June after the justices overturned Roe v. Wade.

To qualify for the potential grant cash, organizations could present various assets within the reproductive well being care area, together with coordinating the reserving of appointments, arranging financing for travel-related prices and providing normal assist navigating the nation’s new patchwork of abortion availability.

While such organizations have been round for many years, they’ve turn into one of the vital integral components of serving to sufferers entry abortion following the U.S. Supreme Court’s choice in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization final summer time.

Abortion suppliers in states the place the process stays authorized have seen an enormous uptick in out-of-state sufferers, and so they’re counting on affected person navigator providers to assist get these sufferers to them. Dr. Colleen McNicholas, the chief medical officer at Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri, advised HuffPost final month that since her department opened a regional logistics middle to assist get individuals to abortion appointments, it’s served greater than 5,000 sufferers and supplied practically $3 million in help for direct procedural care, together with practically $1 million in sensible help.

Cortez Masto’s laws is much like a state-level effort in California, which vowed late final 12 months to place $20 million towards offering grants to organizations serving to sufferers come to California for abortions.

The earlier model of her invoice was referred to the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee however by no means got here up for a vote. The new invoice can even have a slim likelihood of turning into legislation, given Republicans’ management within the House.

But Cortez Masto is set to push on laws that ensures sufferers can journey for abortion care. She’s additionally launched a invoice that goals to cease anti-choice states from banning their residents from touring out of state for abortion providers. Such restrictions have already turn into a actuality, with Idaho passing a legislation in April banning minors from touring out of state for abortions with out parental consent.

“Reproductive rights and the right to choose are under attack,” Cortez Masto mentioned, “and we have to stand up to those extremists who are out there who think it’s okay to control women and take away women’s rights to choose.”

A variety of Democratic senators additionally wrote a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland final week asking him to make sure the Justice Department is safeguarding sufferers’ rights to interstate journey.

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