Nikki Ditto and Molly Duerig, WLP Interns
A bill recently introduced in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, HB 2405, aims to bar state and federal funds from going to health care clinics that provide abortions. Titled the “Whole Women’s Health Funding Priorities Act,” the bill would defund Planned Parenthood in the state of Pennsylvania, and keep women from receiving affordable reproductive and preventive health care. The bill was introduced by Representative Daryl Metcalfe [R- Butler County], and has the support of a number of republican representatives.
According to an editorial in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Rep. Metcalfe claims that “overall public funding for women’s health services would not be reduced, but that the bill would prioritize funding so that hospitals, health centers, and other clinics would receive money first.” Metcalfe’s goal is to defund any clinics or organizations that provide abortions; however, state and federal funds are already prohibited from being used to fund abortion services. This bill would instead impact the preventive care that Planned Parenthood provides for uninsured women throughout the state.
Abortions make up only “5 percent of Planned Parenthood’s services” in Pennsylvania. The main role of Planned Parenthood is in providing “preventive care such as screening for cancer and sexually transmitted diseases along with providing birth control and prenatal testing.” These services are essential for Pennsylvania women without health care and those without access to other health care providers. Last year, only “13,000 abortions [were] performed at eight of the 42 Planned Parenthood clinics,” as compared to the over 200,000 STD tests, almost 100,000 birth control prescriptions, and nearly 50,000 cancer screenings. As a recent editorial in the Harrisburg Patriot explains,
If Metcalfe’s aim is to stop abortions, his approach is counterproductive. In many cases, women are getting from Planned Parenthood the reproductive education and birth control they need so they don’t end up with an unintended pregnancy that could lead to an abortion.
HB 2405 is just one of many bills introduced this session that aim to reduce or eradicate access to abortions in Pennsylvania. It is part of a growing trend of attacking both the clinics that provide abortions and the women who seek affordable and safe reproductive health care. The Philadelphia Inquirer, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and the Harrisburg Patriot all released editorials condemning the bill and urging representatives of both political parties to vote no. Currently, HB 2405 is stalled in the House, though it and other bills with similar consequences could come up for a vote later in the year.