HARRISBURG, Sept. 19 – Today, state Reps. Elizabeth Fiedler, D-Phila., and Emily Kinkead, D-Allegheny, hosted a news conference with other Democratic lawmakers in Harrisburg to introduce a powerful package of bills aimed at strengthening and growing reproductive rights and health care for the people of Pennsylvania.
Fiedler and Kinkead were joined by state Reps. Danielle Friel Otten, D-Chester; Liz Hanbidge, D-Montgomery; and Jessica Benham and Dan Frankel, both D-Allegheny. Reps. Chris Rabb, D-Phila., and Sara Innamorato, D-Allegheny, were not able to attend, but support the issue.
The Fighting for Reproductive Rights! event included the announcement of a four-bill package that would protect the licenses of abortion care providers, protect those seeking an abortion from prosecution and expand the number of health care providers who may provide an abortion.
Fiedler said, “The attacks we’re seeing on reproductive rights from our Republican colleagues is a monumental infringement on the rights of women and birthing people across the commonwealth. We are here today to propose these important bills to protect these crucial rights for the women and birthing people of Pennsylvania.”
Kinkead said, “Democrats are exhausting every possible legislative avenue to solidify reproductive rights in our state. Despite the repulsive attacks elected Republicans launched on bodily autonomy this year, the overwhelming majority of Pennsylvanians – of Americans – want abortion access to remain safe and legal, and these new bills would ensure that it does, including protecting access to legal care sought by out-of-state residents.”
She added that clinics in southwestern Pennsylvania are strained by the recent influx of out-of-state patients since the overturning of Roe, arguing that there is now a dire need to increase the number of abortion providers in areas near border states that have implemented severe abortion restrictions, like West Virginia and Ohio, and to provide safe haven for out-of-state residents whose home state seeks to overreach their legal jurisdiction.
Friel-Otten said, “When this activist Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, nearly 50 years of established protections for our reproductive freedoms were erased. Right now, abortion remains legal in Pennsylvania, and my fellow pro-choice legislators and I are taking every action we can to keep it that way. Lawmakers have no right to interfere with deeply personal issues like family planning and bodily autonomy. I’m proud to introduce a constitutional amendment with my colleague Representative Liz Hanbidge that reaffirms and protects every Pennsylvanian’s right to privacy and control over their own reproductive health care decisions. Our state constitution is sacred and is designed to give citizens rights, not take them away, as Senate Bill 106 aims to do by creating a path to completely ban abortions in the commonwealth.”
Hanbidge said, “For far too long, reproductive rights and access to reproductive health care have been eroding throughout this nation. However, our fight isn’t over; in fact, it’s just beginning. State legislatures across this nation will play a critical role in upholding and expanding access to reproductive rights, and we will relentlessly explore every legislative avenue so women may continue to have the ability to choose.”
She continued, “I stood with my colleagues to relay a simple message to women in every corner of this commonwealth and country: We have your backs, we will continue fighting for you, and we will not rest until your inalienable right to bodily autonomy is protected under the law.”
The lawmakers also announced a series of other bills they are introducing to remove unnecessary testing, protect people’s data privacy, detail men’s responsibility in reproductive matters and remove deductibles and other expenses for those seeking abortion care in Pennsylvania.
Benham said, “With a national abortion ban looming, it’s vital that we do everything in our power to protect abortion access at the state level – now more than ever. With this new package of legislation, we’re fighting to reinforce access to lifesaving health care and to keep the government out of every Pennsylvanian’s health care decisions.”
Frankel said, “This is about the public health, and this is about bodily autonomy. We are fighting to ensure that this commonwealth’s laws do not interfere with any pregnant person’s right to make decisions for their own pregnancy. It’s past time to ensure that abortion is legal AND accessible.”
Innamorato said, “We will not stand by idly while efforts are made to criminalize and restrict health choices for women throughout the commonwealth. These kinds of actions only double our resolve and our efforts to ensure that their well-being is always protected.”
Rabb said, “We must ensure the privacy of women and all birthing people’s reproductive information. It is their decision and no one else needs to know about it.”
Fiedler said the Democratic lawmakers wanted to present a big picture, positive vision for the reproductive rights and health care they want to see for their constituents and everyone in Pennsylvania. The lawmakers released their legislation and called for its passage while thousands of anti-abortion protesters rallied outside the Capitol.
You can watch today’s news conference in its entirety here: PRESS EVENT – House Democrats Fighting to Preserve Reproductive Rights – YouTube