Modeled on federal legislation, new bill protects doctors, staff and patients
PENNSYLVANIA – Anti-abortion extremists have long used acts of violence such as arson and mass shootings in a severely misguided campaign to “stop abortion.”
Recently, it has been getting worse.
Last November, three people were murdered and nine more injured when a man went on a shooting rampage at the Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs. The attack happened amid a sharp increase in threats and violence against abortion providers in the wake of a debunked video propaganda campaign.
Counting the tragedy in Colorado Springs, there have been 11 murders and 28 attempted murders in attacks targeting reproductive health care providers in the US and Canada. Pennsylvania providers have been subjected to death threats, obstructive clinic protests, fake anthrax attacks, bomb threats, arson, vandalism, targeted harassment at home and at church, internet stalking, and assault.
To address this crisis, Pennsylvania Senator Larry Farnese (D-Philadelphia) introduced Senate Bill 1105, to provide freedom of access to reproductive health care facilities.
“My new proposal makes it clear that people who try to intimidate or hurt women entering a reproductive health care clinic will be punished, ordered to pay a hefty fine, and spend a lot of time in jail,” said Sen. Farnese, who has worked as a volunteer clinic escort.
“We’re grateful to Senator Farnese for taking the lead on strengthening Pennsylvania’s laws, so women’s health care providers and their patients are better protected,” said Sue Frietsche, senior staff attorney at the Women’s Law Project. Frietsche and her colleagues at the Women’s Law Project have represented abortion providers and clinic staff who have been stalked, harassed and threatened by anti-abortion extremists.
SB 1105 provides for safe access to reproductive health care facilities, prevents harassment and intimidation of patients and clinic staff, and combats deliberate obstruction of clinic entrances.
“In light of the violence, arsons, threats, and terrorism against abortion providers and patients over the past several months, this bill is needed now more than ever,” said David S. Cohen, professor at the Thomas R. Kline School of Law at Drexel University, WLP board member and co-author of Living in the Crosshairs: The Untold Stories of Anti-Abortion Terrorism.
Senator Farnese is a member of the bipartisan Women’s Health Caucus of the General Assembly, which formed with the goal of turning around the state’s appalling record on women’s health by promoting evidence-based health policy, eliminating workplace discrimination, and other initiatives aimed at advancing women’s health.
To request more information or an interview with an attorney at the Women’s Law Project, contact Tara Murtha at tmurtha@womenslawproject. To learn more about the WLP, go to our website at www.womenslawproject.org.
The Women’s Law Project is the only public interest law center in Pennsylvania devoted to advancing the rights of women and girls.