Policy Committee examines expanding reproductive health care

Testifiers detail need to strengthen health care in PA

HARRISBURG, March 29 – State lawmakers at a House Majority Policy Committee hearing heard testimony Wednesday on the fact that reproductive health care options are declining, despite the need for safe abortions – when nearly 1 in 4 women in the United States will have an abortion during their lifetime.

“A description of early abortion care and care for a miscarriage would show that the two are indistinguishable. They use the exact same medications and the exact same process,” House Majority Health Committee Chairman Dan Frankel said. “When providers are trained to manage a miscarriage, they are learning how to provide abortion care. The fact that some clinicians are then prevented from using that expertise is clearly based on ideology. Frankly, nurses and midwives would be as thoughtful and professional in providing abortion care as the doctors that are currently allowed to do so.”

The committee heard testimony from Dr. Sarah Horvath, the medical director at Planned Parenthood Keystone; Dr. Sheila Ramgopal, the CEO at Allegheny Reproductive Health Center; and Katrina Lipinsky, a midwife based in Reading. An increased demand in reproductive health care in Pennsylvania coincided with the near-total ban of abortion in West Virginia and abortion restrictions in Ohio. 

Dr. Ramgopal detailed how her health center has experienced a 40% increase in people seeking abortion care since the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization – paving the way for states to restrict or ban abortion.     

“Physicians testified before the committee about how eliminating the physician-only abortion laws in Pennsylvania would strengthen our health care workforce while at the same time improve care for pregnant people, and help reduce maternal mortality,” hearing co-host Rep. Elizabeth Fiedler said. “These are recommendations based on science, published reports by the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control, and by the very physicians who train advanced practice clinicians. This change would have a beneficial impact on the lives of many Pennsylvanians.”

A midwife, Lipinksy detailed how she regularly sees patients experiencing miscarriage and  require medication or a procedure to empty the uterus or to allow patients to safely miscarry at home. While the medical treatment for abortion is the same if a patient is having a miscarriage, she is not allowed to provide the same care if it is an abortion.

“We cannot continue to disregard the negative impact physician-only laws have had on a wide spectrum of people living throughout Pennsylvania, including people of color as well as people living in rural communities,” said Rep. Danilo Burgos, who is the chairman of the Subcommittee on Progressive Policies for Working People.

Submitted testimony from the hearing can be found here. Information about this hearing and other House Majority Policy Committee hearings can be found at pahouse.com/policy. Photos to be used for publication can be found at pahouse.com/PolicyCommittee/Galleries. A recording of the hearing can be found here.