Howard: Pennsylvania must encode reproductive rights into law now

Today’s Supreme Court decision overturning the longstanding precedent of Roe v. Wade ushers in a new era in which women’s freedom of choice is no longer guaranteed.

While this decision will have no immediate impact in Pennsylvania – unlike states such as Texas and Florida, where preemptively passed laws banning abortion will now take effect – we should take little comfort in the fact.

A handful of political appointees have erased a basic right despite widespread public opposition. The fact that this erasure will take longer to reach Pennsylvania should not be a comfort.

This is exactly why I introduced H.B. 733 last year, which would finally and rightfully encode Roe v. Wade’s protections into Pennsylvania law, guaranteeing freedom of choice and bodily autonomy. Fifteen of my colleagues, alas, all Democrats, have co-sponsored this bill and demonstrated their commitment to upholding a right that is fundamental to modern life.

Unfortunately, H.B. 733 has languished in the House Health Committee, where the Republican majority has disallowed even its basic consideration. Meanwhile, this same committee has advanced radical proposals to curtail women’s rights.

As it stands, the veto power of Gov. Tom Wolf is our chief protection from a return to the dark old days when women were given a so-called choice between an unwanted pregnancy and dangerous procedures performed at home or by unlicensed doctors operating in the shadows.

We must work not only to ensure the governor’s veto power continues to be wielded by someone who will fight to protect our rights, but we must also ensure these rights are not open to question.

I need your help. Please contact Republican House leadership and request they bring H.B. 733 to a vote. If they oppose freedom of choice and bodily autonomy, let them cast votes showing that, rather than hiding sheepishly behind procedure.

About Rep. Kristine Howard – Kristine Howard (D-Chester) was elected state representative for the 167th Legislative District in November 2018. The district includes Charlestown, East Whiteland, Easttown, West Pikeland, West Whiteland, Willistown Township and Malvern Borough.