Dear Senators Scarnati, Corman, Costa, Greenleaf and Leach,
The Women’s Law Project is a public interest legal organization that has represented abortion providers in Pennsylvania since the 1970s.
In light of Monday’s U.S. Supreme Court decision in Whole Woman’s Health v Hellerstedt, we urge you to remove House Bill 1948 from further consideration.
House Bill 1948 seeks to criminalize almost all abortion by any method after 19 weeks’ gestation, with no exceptions for rape, incest or fetal anomaly. In addition to making abortion after 19 weeks a felony, HB 1948 includes a provision to criminalize a procedure known as dilation and evacuation at any stage of pregnancy. This is the same procedure that is used to complete a miscarriage. Some doctors caring for pregnant women experiencing sudden or severe fetal complications would be forced to abandon patients in desperate need of care.
In Monday’s landmark Supreme Court decision, the majority of the Supreme Court invalidated Texas’ abortion restrictions because they impose an undue burden on women’s access to abortion and provide “few, if any, health benefits for women.”
If enacted, HB 1948 would inflict even greater harm on the health of Pennsylvania women than House Bill 2 would have inflicted on Texas women. Relevant medical experts such as the Pennsylvania section of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the Pennsylvania Medical Society strongly oppose this bill.
Under well-established constitutional standards, HB 1948 is quite clearly unconstitutional.
Further, in case after case, the Supreme Court has already ruled that abortion procedure bans that eliminate one of the safest and most common abortion procedures throughout much of pregnancy are unconstitutional.
The Pennsylvania Legislature has far more promising avenues to promote women’s health than to pursue unconstitutional abortion bans that actually would endanger women’s health. For example, in most of Pennsylvania, a pregnant worker can still be fired over a request for a minor, temporary accommodation such as keeping a bottle of water at her work station. Babies suffer when moms are forced to stop breastfeeding because they lose their milk supply after being unjustly denied sanitary, private spaces to express milk in the workplace.
Yet legislation to address these problems, and other initiatives to promote women’s health and economic security in Pennsylvania, are stalling due to neglect, while our lawmakers pursue dangerous and unconstitutional abortion bans.
It is time to stop these attacks, and focus on solutions.
Very truly yours,
Carol E. Tracy, Executive Director
Women’s Law Project
Susan Frietsche, Senior Attorney
Women’s Law Project