Frankel: Reproductive health highlights areas of real need amid GOP push to limit abortion access

Says legislature needs to address health disparities, mental health needs, family support

HARRISBURG, April 22 – As the Pennsylvania House Health Committee winds down a series of hearings on reproductive health, Rep. Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny, and minority chair of the committee, urged his fellow lawmakers to focus on the possibility of bipartisan legislation to address issues like quality prenatal counseling, health disparities and education to address the upstream causes of sexual violence, in lieu of more attempts to limit abortion access.

“In the course of these hearings, I did see a lot of potential for bipartisan collaboration. I heard interest in health disparities affecting people of color, better inclusion for people with disabilities, mental health needs, sexual assault prevention and support for mothers and families. Those are areas of great need where we as legislators could absolutely save lives,” Frankel said. “But I was also dismayed to hear abortion opponents attempt to muddle the record on abortion care, despite a wealth of data available to us that paint a picture of a safe set of procedures that most Americans and most Pennsylvanians believe should be an available option, regardless of where you live.

“I hope that we can continue those conversations about maternal health and related issues – I can think of at least a dozen bills currently being circulated that would address them.”

Frankel reiterated that the comprehensive health care provided to pregnant people, including abortion services, has been carefully studied for decades.

“Much of what we learned about abortion we already know: Abortion procedures are very safe, intensely regulated and an important part of a long list of health services that are in great need throughout our communities,” Frankel said. “But there are also areas of mutual interest where we could work collaboratively to enhance lives. I hope that is where we will focus our efforts.”

Once such bill, sponsored by Rep. Kate Klunk and Frankel, would change the PA Medical Assistance for Workers with Disabilities program, incrementally removing income limits and allowing people with disabilities who are already working to increase their earnings without repercussions. Eleven other states have already adopted similar legislation.

The measure has been referred to the Health Committee and awaits action there.