HARRISBURG, PA −  May 25, 2021 − Chairs, members, and advocates of the Pennsylvania Women’s Health Caucus (WHC) gathered today to reaffirm their commitment to protecting abortion access in response to the recent anti-abortion hearings in the Pennsylvania House Health Committee and the current anti-abortion legislation moving through the General Assembly. 

Chairs of the caucus, Senator Judy Schwank (D-Berks), Senator Amanda M. Cappelletti (D-Montgomery, Delaware), Representative Morgan Cephas (D-Philadelphia) and Representative Mary Jo Daley (D-Montgomery) were joined by Representative Dan Frankel (D-Allegheny), member and co-founder of the caucus, as well as a patient advocate, Kelsey, who shared her story. 

“I proudly stood with my colleagues of the Women’s Health Caucus today, in support of reproductive healthcare,” said Senator Schwank. “Today, we heard about commonsense evidence-based policies that will increase the health and wellbeing of people from across the Commonwealth.  These policies, which include steps to address maternal mortality outcomes, increase access to contraceptives and protect a person’s medical information, have been overlooked.  Instead, House Republicans chose to promote legislation that totally undermines the constitutional right that all people have to make their own healthcare choices. Women choose to have an abortion for a myriad of reasons, all of which are deeply personal.   We can never fully know or even understand the situations that people face in their lives, particularly their reproductive healthcare.  Their choice is one that is fundamentally their own to make, and politicians have no place in this decision.”  

As a caucus, we remain committed to fighting anti-abortion legislation and rhetoric. Additionally, we propose that the House Health Committee address issues that are real challenges for every day Pennsylvanians, rather than waste time and taxpayer money on advancing this shame-based, anti-abortion rhetoric that will end in a veto from the Governor. 

“Rather than focus our efforts on building a better and more equitable healthcare system that delivers adequate and coordinated care, our Republican colleagues chose to spend our time and tax payers’ dollars on hearings seeking to block women from accessing constitutionally protected abortion care,” said Representative Cephas. “During a pandemic we have real issues and challenges facing Pennsylvanians. With an ending in sight for COVID-19, now is the time to have real conversations and move policies that are geared towards ensuring the health of communities across the Commonwealth.”

Today, the PA House Health Committee voted three anti-abortion bills out of committee. Read them here: HB1500, HB118, HB904. These bills all have the same ultimate goal, to make abortions illegal in Pennsylvania. The WHC will continue to work to protect access to abortion and call out shame-based, anti-abortion rhetoric. 

“I am proud to stand with members of the Women’s Health Caucus as we pledge to the women of Pennsylvania that we will continue to stand up for their right to choose – not what to choose.  We know that women are perfectly capable of making their own decisions about their own bodies and that women will make the best decisions for themselves and their families,” said Representative Daley. 

The Governor has also reaffirmed his will veto any bill that comes across his desk which would limit access to reproductive health care. 

“I stand firm in my commitment and support of reproductive rights,” said Governor Tom Wolf.“While members of the legislature continue to play politics around health choices, I will not let the Commonwealth go backwards on reproductive rights or access to health care. I will veto any anti-choice legislation that lands on my desk.”  

“Controlling what happens to our bodies is a fundamental right. Patients are entitled to bodily autonomy without the legislature intervening in personal and private medical decisions. I suggest my colleagues focus on the numerous real issues facing our Commonwealth, like the increasing maternal mortality rate, rather than wasting resources on pushing shame-based, anti-abortion rhetoric by introducing bills that will end up being vetoed,” said Senator Cappelletti. 

Watch the full press conference here.