Legislating medicine: More than 1,000 provisions already introduced in 2016

So far this year, legislators in 45 states had introduced 1022 provisions related to sexual and reproductive health, according to a new report from the Guttmacher Institute. Of the 411 abortion restrictions that have been introduced so far this year, 17 have passed at least one chamber and 21 have been enacted in five states.

Guttmacher-2016-State

Here in Pennsylvania, Rep. Kathy Rapp recently introduced a bizarre double abortion ban that, if passed, will be one of the most severe in the country.

In addition to criminalizing abortion at 20 weeks and after, House Bill 1948 includes a “method ban” provision, which would criminalize one of the most common abortion procedures. The reason dilation & extraction, also known as D&E, is one of the most common methods of abortion is because it is one of the safest. In other words, the bill is clearly designed to punish women, an assertion underscored by the Physician General of Pennsylvania.

House members ignored the Physician General, and explicitly refused to hear testimony from medical experts twice.

The good news: After a huge outcry from constituents like you—including a press conference featuring women who spoke out about the tragic, real-world consequences of this type of ban—HB1948 has been temporarily taken off the House agenda.

The bad news is that it can come back at any time, as could any of many anti-choice bills flooding state legislatures across the country.

This new report arrives as we await a ruling in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, a case currently under consideration by Supreme Court justices that could determine the landscape of access to reproductive healthcare in every state.

Meanwhile, Pennsylvania is one of several states leading the effort to push back against this continuing effort to chisel away our reproductive rights. Pro-science, pro-choice legislators in the Pennsylvania Legislature have introduced bills to protect physicians and patients from harassment and violence and to prohibit laws that force doctors to lie to patients—such as a misinformation bill in South Dakota that forces doctors to lie about a so-called “abortion reversal.” Not only is there no medical evidence of the possibility of “abortion reversal,” but if and when performed, it amounts to unregulated experimenting on pregnant people.

Members of the Women’s Health Caucus of the Pennsylvania Legislature have also introduced bills to help pregnant workers minimize on-the-job risks to their pregnancies and promote infant health by protecting working mothers who are nursing.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of the “pro-life” lawmakers who supported the anti-science double abortion ban have so far not supported these efforts to protect mothers and children in Pennsylvania.

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The Women’s Law Project is the only public interest law center in Pennsylvania devoted to advancing the rights of women and girls.

 

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The Women's Law Project creates a more just and equitable society by advancing the rights and status of all women throughout their lives. To this end, we engage in high-impact litigation, advocacy, and education.
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