House Republicans continue attacks against women’s health, family rights in Pennsylvania

Legislation passed this week puts politics ahead of patients’ health

HARRISBURG, June 9 – Pennsylvania House Republicans continued to put partisan politics ahead of women’s health this week in Harrisburg, passing a bevy of bills that would insert politics into doctors’ offices and limit families’ rights to choose what is best for them.

The series of bills passed Wednesday would, if enacted into law, work to erode the rights of patients and parents and should absolutely be understood as an attack on reproductive rights, said members of the Womens Health Caucus, which includes state Reps. Mary Jo Daley, D-Montgomery, Morgan Cephas, D-Philadelphia, and Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny.

“Pennsylvanians should pay close attention, because the future of access to abortion has never been more at risk in Pennsylvania,” said Frankel, who is also the Democratic chair of the House Health Committee. “Now is the time to speak up, and let your state legislators know that here in this commonwealth, we trust science, and we trust women.”

Today the Republican majority in the House passed H.B. 118, which attempts to shame women and drive up costs of reproductive health care by requiring ritual burial of ectopic pregnancies, zygotes, blastocysts and embryos, and H.B. 1500, which would install barriers to open, honest conversation between a pregnant patient and their physician by forcing doctors to deny abortion health care after a fetal diagnosis of Down Syndrome.

"Politicians do not belong in the room with a doctor and patient. Medical care, especially those related to reproductive health, is deeply personal and should remain that way,” Daley said. “The majority of Americans believe in protecting the rights of the patient and of preserving Roe v. Wade. This week's passing of H.B.s 1500 and 118, which will not survive Gov. Wolf's veto, prove that the fight to protect reproductive rights will never stop.”

While personal views of Pennsylvanians may be nuanced and diverse, a broad majority of residents support safe and legal access to abortion health care. Even more recognize that they may have personal feelings about when they think abortion may be legitimate – cases of rape or incest, or when a mother’s life is at risk – but that they can hold a moral position and still not impose their own views on the world.

“It is dismaying that my colleagues on the other side of the aisle insist on bringing regressive anti-abortion legislation to a vote—legislation that stands to undo any progress in expanding reproductive health autonomy and cause more pain,” Cephas said. “For months, my colleagues of the Women’s Health Caucus, and those who stand with us have been investing time, energy, and resources to defend the rights of Pennsylvanians, and their personal healthcare choices. The people of Pennsylvania are deserving of so much better.”

Gov. Tom Wolf has vowed to protect reproductive rights in Pennsylvania, and this week said he plans to veto any bills that would limit families’ or women’s reproductive rights.

Frankel also recently introduced the ‘Protection of Patient Trust Act’, or H.B. 1444, which would ensure that medical providers could not be forced to provide inaccurate information or care that is not in accordance with research-backed standards of care.