On March 10th, the PA House and Senate introduced bills banning abortions at six weeks. These bills prevent pregnant people from getting abortions as early as six weeks into a pregnancy — only about two weeks after a missed period. This is before many people even know that they are pregnant. Pennsylvanians already face barriers in accessing abortion care through medically unnecessary waiting periods and labs.
Amidst a pandemic, Pennsylvania politicians are exploiting COVID-19 to ban abortion. These two bills are in addition to the other state bills that would require patients to obtain a death certificate for abortions and another bill that criminalizes abortion for a diagnosis of down syndrome. Even now, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to hurt communities, the PA state legislature is still trying to ban abortion and limit health care for patients.
The state is wasting the taxpayers’ time and money by continuing to focus on slashing access to reproductive health care. Six-week bans on abortion have been struck down each time they have been challenged. Courts in states like Kentucky, Mississippi, North Dakota, Iowa, Ohio, and Tennessee have easily blocked those states’ bans, acknowledging that it is unconstitutional for a state to prohibit a person from choosing abortion before viability—regardless of any exceptions made in the law.
When politicians attack health care, they disproportionately impact those who already face barriers to health care; people of color, immigrants, women, the LGBTQ community, young people, people with low incomes, and people who live in rural communities. Politicians should be focused on expanding access to health care, ramping up the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, helping families and businesses access aid, and making their communities healthier. Banning abortion only makes a bad public health situation worse and puts pregnant people’s lives in jeopardy.
These misguided priorities have weakened our public health infrastructure at a time when we need it the most. Our message to our patients is this - our doors are open. To everyone in Pennsylvania, abortion remains safe and legal here and in the other forty-nine states. While politicians are working to ban abortion, PPKeystone is expanding care. Last month, our Bensalem Health Center began offering medication abortion care to the community. This means seven of our nine health centers offer abortion care and more patients are able to access the health care they need. Our mission remains providing you with care, no matter what.
Melissa Reed, MA, JD
President and Chief Executive Officer, Planned Parenthood Keystone
Planned Parenthood Keystone