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Republicans eye new restrictions on out-of-state abortions

Republicans won't be satisfied with state bans on abortion. Officials such as Marco Rubio are looking for ways to curtail out-of-state abortions, too.


As things stand, it seems like only a matter of time before Republican-appointed justices on the Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade. Americans would then confront a patchwork of laws nationwide, with many states banning abortions within their boundaries.

For proponents of reproductive rights, this will be a brutal setback: Women of means will still be able to travel to other states to terminate unwanted pregnancies, but many women won’t have the necessary resources.

But for many Republicans, this won’t be good enough: If women go from one state to another to have an abortion, some GOP officials see this as a problem in need of a solution. Republican Sen. Kevin Cramer, for example, told NBC News that if one of his constituents were to travel from North Dakota to Minnesota to terminate a pregnancy, “I don’t find a lot of solace in that just because it didn’t happen in my state.”

The question then becomes what GOP policymakers are prepared to do about it.

For some, the solution is a national ban imposed at the federal level. But while that will certainly be in the mix in the coming years, it’s not the only proposal on Republicans’ minds.

In Missouri, for example, a Republican official recently unveiled a proposal that would allow random citizens to sue anyone who helps a Missouri resident obtain an out-of-state abortion. The Texas Tribune reported yesterday that some GOP legislators also want to approve measures that would “prevent pregnant Texans from seeking legal abortions in other states.”

There’s also a corporate dimension to this: A variety of large employers have told employees in Republican-led states that their health plans will cover the costs of traveling to other states for abortions. Bloomberg News reported that Republican Sen. Marco Rubio is working on this, too, eyeing new financial disincentives for businesses.

[The Florida senator] is proposing legislation that would prevent companies from writing off these costs for their employees and their families. The tax code generally allows companies to deduct their business costs, including employee health coverage and other benefits.

“Our tax code should be pro-family and promote a culture of life,” Rubio said in a written statement.

The GOP senator’s bill is called — I kid you not — the No Tax Breaks for Radical Corporate Activism Act (S. 4131). It even has a companion bill in the House (H.R.7684), which has picked up a handful of co-sponsors.

To be sure, the No Tax Breaks for Radical Corporate Activism Act has no chance of success in a Democratic-led Congress, and even if Republicans take control of Capitol Hill after the midterm elections, there’s no chance President Joe Biden would sign such legislation.

But we’re nevertheless getting a fresh look at prominent GOP officials’ priorities — and the kind of ideas Republicans are likely to pursue the next time they’re in a position of power.