Harrisburg, PA June 24, 2024 – Members of the Pennsylvania Women’s Health Caucus (WHC) were joined by Planned Parenthood, Department of Human Services Secretary Val Arkoosh, and advocates in Harrisburg today, on the second-year mark of the Dobbs Decision that overturned Roe v. Wade. Speakers were all agreed on the main message: while abortion is safe and legal in Pennsylvania, it’s not necessarily accessible.

Compared to other states where abortion is legal, abortion policies in Pennsylvania are considered to be on the more restrictive side. Policies surrounding abortion in Pennsylvania currently in effect include:

  • Abortion is banned at 24 weeks and later.
  • Patients are forced to wait 24 hours after counseling to obtain an abortion.
  • State Medicaid coverage of abortion is banned except in very limited circumstances.
  • Private health insurance of abortion is banned except in very limited circumstances.
  • Unnecessary regulations are in force and designed to shutter abortion clinics without basis in medical standards.

Representative Kristine Howard, (D-167), Prime Sponsor of House Bill 2304: Reproductive Freedom Act, at today’s press conference said, “20-year-old me was confident that we would always have these rights. 50-year-old me was still confident we would always have these rights,” referring to the abortion rights that were enshrined in the Roe v. Wade decision that was overturned by Dobbs. She went on to detail the need for House Bill 2304, which repeals a great bulk of the Abortion Control Act, the law which places many of the restrictions listed above on abortion care, and replaces it with a new legal framework aimed at treating abortion as health care, with an emphasis on protecting patients’ independence and privacy. 

Secretary Val Arkoosh, Department of Human Services, shared “Reproductive care is healthcare. And the Shapiro Administration will always fight for women to have the freedom to make informed, safe decisions for their health, their bodies, and their lives.”

The Pennsylvania Women’s Health Caucus is chaired by Senator Judy Schwank (D-11), Senator Amanda M. Cappelletti (D-17), Representative Mary Jo Daley, (D-148), and Representative Gina Curry (D-164). The WHC is a bicameral caucus of legislators partnering with advocacy groups to advance legislation and policies that promote equity and protect the health and wellbeing of women, gender expansive people, and families in Pennsylvania. As a caucus, we recognize the intersectionality of social issues that support physical and mental health. The WHC is committed to closing existing disparities and removing barriers Pennsylvanians of all backgrounds face when seeking healthcare and systems of support. Integral to their mission is the belief that all Pennsylvanians have the right to make private, personal medical decisions.

“Safe and legal abortion care is healthcare, and we are proud to continue to keep that as a right here in Pennsylvania,” said Representative Curry. “Sadly, the Dobbs decision shows that these rights are not a guarantee in the United States. We stand united with the women of the Commonwealth in maintaining and defending the right to let women decide how they wish to take care of themselves.”

Senator Schwank and Senator Cappelletti are the co-Prime Sponsors of the Senate Companion to the Reproductive Freedom Act. Senator Cappelletti said, “Yes – this is about abortion access – but abortion access impacts so much more than you might think. And while access to abortion is safe and legal here in Pennsylvania, it isn’t necessarily accessible. And we can do a lot more here in this Commonwealth to protect and expand reproductive rights.” Additional pieces of legislation that Senators Schwank and Cappelletti have introduced around reproductive rights include the Abortion Protections Package and Setting Standards for Family Planning Services.

“In just two short years – 21 states have eliminated or severely restricted access to abortion,” said Senator Schwank. “This is a crisis. It’s a crisis in this nation. And while we fight for the people of Pennsylvania, we’re concerned about every woman, every family in the United States.”

“As a co-chair of the Pennsylvania Women’s Health Caucus, I stand committed to defending and advancing the rights and health of women,” said Representative Daley. “Two years ago today, the Dobbs Decision removed the federal protection of the right to an abortion. This decision means that women must fight to regain the full right to make decisions about their own bodies. In the federal landscape – we are witnessing alarming developments.”

Caroline Jones, a Planned Parenthood Storyteller who shared her own abortion story, outlined the stigma and societal judgment she felt at her abortion appointment, detailing, “Abortion seekers come from such varying backgrounds, but more often than not, it seems we seek out this option as a result of capitalistic and patriarchal dominance.” She also shared, “No matter how long this stigma exists, this saying will always be true, ‘Everybody loves somebody, and or knows somebody, who has had an abortion or may need an abortion.’”

“Today we are standing here, never forgetting that on this day, a body of unelected judges made the decision that took away the reproductive freedoms of so many across this country.” said Representative Morgan Cephas, (D-192), a chair of the Pennsylvania Black Maternal Health Caucus.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, “Within 30 days of the Dobbs decision, 43 clinics in 11 states had stopped providing abortion care. By 100 days after the decision, this had increased to 66 clinics in 15 states; no abortion-providing facilities operated in the 14 states enforcing total abortion bans.”

“The government should not be involved in your personal healthcare,” said Speaker Joanna McClinton, (D-191). “The government has no place making those decisions – that includes the Supreme Court and includes the state legislature.” She added, “In the Pennsylvania House, it’s been our one seat majority that has kept our Commonwealth away from an abortion ban.

Signe Espinoza, Executive Director of Planned Parenthood PA Advocates, affirmed, “People are always going to need abortions.”

Find the recording of today’s press conference here. Follow the PA Women’s Health Caucus on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to keep up with the latest out of the Caucus.