House clears legislation to further protect abortion access

Bill offers safeguards to people traveling to Pennsylvania to seek out safe abortions

HARRISBURG, Nov. 15 – Legislation that would further protect Americans seeking abortion services in Pennsylvania from being criminally penalized by other states cleared the state House today. 

House Bill 1786, sponsored by state Reps. Mary Jo Daley, D-Montgomery, and Melissa Shusterman, D-Chester, would prohibit Pennsylvania courts from cooperating with out-of-state civil and criminal cases involving reproductive healthcare services and prevent officials from other states from arresting individuals in Pennsylvania for abortion-related crimes.

Daley, who is co-chair of the bicameral Women’s Health Caucus, said that while former Gov. Tom Wolf issued an executive order to protect people seeking reproductive healthcare services in Pennsylvania from being penalized by their home states, the legislation would enshrine it in state law. She said several states are contemplating laws to make obtaining an abortion an offense punishable by law.

“Access to safe and legal abortion is a serious issue for millions of Americans,” Daley said. “In Pennsylvania, it remains safe and legal. But other states have worked furiously to enact extreme abortion bans and restrict the ability for women to access essential health care. With this legislation, we are sending a clear message that Pennsylvania will not be bullied by these states and their attempts to control other people’s bodies. Pennsylvania must continue to pass policies that protect access to abortion and other critical reproductive healthcare services that people across our nation need and deserve.”  

Shusterman agreed, noting that Pennsylvania was founded as a refuge for those whose rights may be in jeopardy, so legislation that provides protections for reproductive rights speaks to the commonwealth’s values while ensuring critical healthcare access.

“Women in our country are afraid. Since the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization, an alarming number of states have enacted total or near total bans on abortion because of this decision,” Shusterman said. “While we cannot prevent other states from criminalizing abortion, what we can do is protect individuals seeking and providing reproductive healthcare services here in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.”

The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration.