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H.R. 8452 (117th): Reproductive Health Travel Fund Act of 2022


The text of the bill below is as of Jul 20, 2022 (Introduced). The bill was not enacted into law.

Summary of this bill

Should the federal government be in the business of giving money to people to travel across state lines for an abortion?

Context

Since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June, states have begun to restrict or outlaw abortion. In states where abortion is illegal or severely restricted, though, people can still travel to other states to obtain the procedure.

For now, at least. Some red state politicians are trying to ban their residents from traveling out of state for an abortion, though no state has actually passed such a law yet.

If any state does, it would surely be subject to a lawsuit, which would almost …


I

117th CONGRESS

2d Session

H. R. 8452

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

July 20, 2022

(for herself, Mrs. Fletcher, and Ms. Bush) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce

A BILL

To amend the Public Health Service Act to 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.

1.

Short title

This Act may be cited as the Reproductive Health Travel Fund Act of 2022.

2.

Findings

Congress finds as follows:

(1)

On June 24, 2022, in its decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the Supreme Court overruled Roe v. Wade, reversing decades of precedent recognizing the constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy.

(2)

The abortion access landscape was already strained. This decision will decimate access for millions of people in the United States. Roughly half of States are predicted to ban or severely restrict abortion in the coming months.

(3)

The implications of this decision will fall hardest on people who already face barriers to health care access, particularly Black people, Indigenous people, and other people of color, people with disabilities, people in rural areas, young people, people with documentation barriers, and those having difficulty making ends meet.

(4)

People have always had abortions and always will, even in the face of legal, financial, and logistical barriers, or criminalization. While some will self-manage their abortions, and have the option of using pills that are medically safe and effective, many others are traveling hundreds of miles out of State, or forced to carry pregnancies to term.

(5)

Abortion funds and practical support funds are community-based organizations that support people in overcoming financial and logistical barriers to abortion care.

(6)

Funds work together to remove financial and logistical barriers to abortion access and have been doing this work for years. Some of these barriers are, but are not limited to, transportation, food, lodging, childcare, translation, and doula services.

(7)

Many funds are led by people who have had abortions themselves, including a growing base of Black and Brown leaders who have themselves faced abortion obstacles and understand the complex circumstances callers may face.

(8)

Abortion funds have a history of being underresourced and rely mostly on volunteer time and energy to support communities.

(9)

Abortion and practical support funds hold some of the closest ties to people who are having abortions and have the first-hand experience, up-to-date and on-the-ground knowledge, and the regional and national connections needed to support abortion seekers financially, emotionally, or logistically.

(10)

Clinics in States where abortion is legal and more accessible are receiving an influx of people seeking abortions. Provider shortages plus this rapid increase in patients will cause longer waits for appointments.

(11)

When people are not able to access an abortion when they need it, they are often pushed much further into pregnancy. This increases costs exponentially. For many, the increased financial burden will push abortion care completely out of reach.

(12)

A rapidly changing access landscape, as bans are implemented and challenged, means that the window to access care in certain States may be limited. People who are put in a position where they must postpone their care due to financial or other constraints may face appointment cancellations due to overnight changes in legality.

(13)

Funds often work with each other if they cannot fully assist a caller, or if a caller is traveling across regions. A national network of almost 100 abortion and practical support funds has demonstrated these funds are uniquely positioned to lead in this moment and need support.

3.

Grants to pay for travel expenses and logistical support for individuals accessing abortion services

Part D of title III of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 254b et seq.) is amended by adding at the end the following:

XIII

Accessing abortion services

340J.

Grants to pay for travel expenses and logistical support for individuals accessing abortion services

(a)

In general

The Secretary may award grants to eligible entities to pay for travel-related expenses and logistical support for individuals with respect to accessing abortion services.

(b)

Timing

Beginning not later than 30 days after the date of enactment of this section, the Secretary shall solicit applications for grants under this section.

(c)

Use of funds

(1)

Permissible uses

An eligible entity receiving a grant under this section shall use the grant for travel-related expenses and logistical support for individuals with respect to accessing abortion services, which may include any of the following expenses and support:

(A)

Round trip travel to the location where the abortion services are provided.

(B)

Lodging.

(C)

Meals.

(D)

Childcare.

(E)

Translation services.

(F)

Doula care.

(G)

Patient education and information services.

(2)

Organizational costs

An eligible entity receiving a grant under this section may use up to, but not more than, 15 percent of the grant funds to cover organizational costs such as—

(A)

community outreach efforts;

(B)

physical infrastructure construction and maintenance;

(C)

website development and maintenance; and

(D)

increasing staff capacity and training.

(3)

Impermissible uses

An eligible entity receiving a grant under this section shall not use the grant for costs of an abortion procedure.

(d)

Applications

To seek a grant under this section, an eligible entity shall submit to the Secretary an application in such form, at such time, and containing such information as the Secretary determines appropriate.

(e)

Priority

In selecting the recipients of grants under this section, the Secretary shall give priority to eligible entities that—

(1)

serve people who live in a jurisdiction that has banned or severely restricted access to abortion;

(2)

serve people who travel to a jurisdiction other than the one where they live to be provided abortion services; or

(3)

have a program in operation, or submit as part of the application required under subsection (d) a plan to establish and operate a program, to help patients access abortion services.

(f)

Annual reports to Congress

(1)

In general

Not later than 180 days after the date of enactment of this section, and annually thereafter, the Secretary shall submit to the Congress a report on the program under this section.

(2)

Confidentiality

The reports under paragraph (1) shall not include any individually identifiable information.

(g)

Definitions

In this section:

(1)

The term eligible entity

(A)

means a nonprofit organization, or a community-based organization, that assists individuals seeking an abortion through programs, services, or activities that are unbiased and medically and factually accurate; and

(B)

excludes any entity that discourages individuals from seeking an abortion.

(2)

The term nonprofit organization means an organization that—

(A)

is described in subsection (c)(3) of section 501 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986; and

(B)

is, under subsection (a) of such section, exempt from taxation.

(h)

Authorization of appropriations

To carry out this section, there is authorized to be appropriated $300,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2023 through 2027.

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