Frankel joins nearly 900 state legislators to express support for abortion rights

Signs onto amicus brief as Supreme Court decides future of Roe v. Wade

HARRISBURG, Sept. 21 –  This week, state Rep. Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny and Democratic chair of the PA House Health Committee, signed onto an amicus brief in support of legal abortion in Dobbs v. Women’s Health Organization, the Supreme Court case likely to decide the future of reproductive freedom in the United States. The brief, signed by 897 state legislators across the country, represents the strongest showing ever recorded of state legislators supporting legal abortion nationwide.

The Mississippi law at the heart of the case banned abortion services after 15 weeks of pregnancy — well before the 24-week precedent established by Roe v. Wade. Despite multiple lower courts’ rulings that the law was blatantly unconstitutional, the Supreme Court agreed to hold oral arguments to determine whether all pre-viability abortion bans are constitutional. In their amicus brief, state legislators argue that the court’s failure to uphold the rule of law and precedent would result in disastrous consequences for women seeking abortions, as well as for their families.

“My name is on this brief because Mississippi’s fight is also Pennsylvania’s fight: The anti-choice movement is on a relentless march to turn back the clock, and we cannot miss a single opportunity to stop them,” Frankel said.

Arguments in Dobbs v. Women’s Health Organization will come on the heels of Texas enacting a law that effectively bans all abortions in the state after six weeks of pregnancy and emboldens any citizen to surveil and harass virtually anyone under vigilante claims of noncompliance. The Texas law is just one of nearly 600 abortion restriction bills introduced in 2021—the worst year for state legislative attacks on abortion since the Roe decision. Many more restrictions are expected, as several state officials have indicated they are looking to mimic the Texas law in their own states.

Meanwhile in Pennsylvania, House and Senate Republicans have introduced a succession of bills that would heavily restrict reproductive rights. As Democratic chair of the House Health Committee, Frankel has helped lead legislative fights against several rounds of cookie-cutter legislation that would interfere with a woman’s ability to access abortion care. With Republicans holding the majority, Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf ultimately fended off the attacks on the right to choose with his veto pen.

Frankel called on his own constituents and all who understand the dangers of outlawing abortion rights to join the effort to ensure that abortion procedures remain accessible, safe and legal in Pennsylvania.

"A chill has run through this commonwealth in recent weeks as many people who have long taken for granted that their reproductive rights would be protected realized how deeply imperiled they truly are. If you were waiting for a sign that the battle to protect reproductive freedoms needs your voice, this is it,” Frankel said.

The amicus brief was organized by State Innovation Exchange’s Reproductive Freedom Leadership Council — a network of state legislators working to advance reproductive health, rights and justice.

“State legislators are the first line of defense against policies that deliberately roll back progress on abortion rights and reproductive health across the country, and the overwhelming majority of the public agrees we must protect Roe v. Wade,” said Jennifer Driver, SiX’s senior director of reproductive Rights.  “With this amicus brief, nearly 900 legislators are sending the Supreme Court a clear message: we cannot go back. You must uphold 50 years of legal abortion in all 50 states.”

Public sentiment is overwhelmingly in favor of keeping Roe, according to a recent Data for Progress poll, with 60% in favor and 23% against. By a 2–1 margin, voters also strongly disapprove of allowing citizens to sue individuals they suspect of helping someone get an abortion—the cornerstone of the Texas bill.