Pittsburgh — August 11, 2022 — This morning, the Pennsylvania Women’s Health Caucus, in conjunction with the House and Senate Democratic Policy Committees, held its third hearing on post-Roe Pennsylvania at Chatham University.
The hearing featured testimony from abortion providers, medical professionals and advocacy groups serving Pittsburgh and western Pennsylvania. Testifiers highlighted the need to keep abortion safe and legal in Pennsylvania, the challenges abortion providers are facing since Roe v. Wade’s reversal and some of the issues that are exacerbated by abortion bans, like domestic violence. It also provided insight into how providers are handling the influx of out-of-state patients western Pennsylvania is seeing.
Testifier Sydney Etheridge, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania said the overturning of Roe v. Wade put an immediate strain on abortion providers in the region.
“As expected, our region has seen the effects of this decision almost instantly with the only two freestanding abortion clinics, Allegheny Reproductive Health Center and Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania, taking on an influx of patient calls and visits,” said Etheridge. “Despite the strain, this has put on our centers–not to mention the challenges travel and other barriers can put on patients–our staff continues to do all they can to ensure that patients get the care they need when they need it. While abortion is still legal in Pennsylvania at this time, it is critically important that abortion remain accessible not just for Pennsylvanians, but for those coming to our state in search of compassionate care.”
The four co-chairs of the WHC said after the hearing that expanding access to reproductive health care and supporting providers should be a legislative priority. They also mentioned that the hearing provided context on how bans in other states are impacting Pennsylvania’s abortion providers, particularly in the Pittsburgh area.
“Pittsburgh’s close proximity to Ohio and West Virginia, two states that have moved to restrict access to abortion, means it’s going to see a lot of out-of-state patients,” said WHC co-chair Sen. Judy Schwank (D-Berks). “Today’s testimony highlighted that this has already begun and is placing stress on the region’s abortion providers. What’s most important now is that Pennsylvania continues to be a place where women can access the reproductive health care they need and that we take action to support our providers.”
“Accessibility remains a top issue when it comes to abortion care in Pennsylvania,” said WHC co-chair Sen. Amanda Cappelletti (D-Montgomery, Delaware). “With many of our neighbors banning abortion, abortion providers are becoming overwhelmed with individuals that need to access this life-saving procedure. It is critical that we remain vigilant in expanding access to these health care procedures for anyone that seeks them within the commonwealth.”
“Abortion in Pennsylvania is still safe and legal and we must work to keep it that way,” said WHC co-chair Rep. Mary Jo Daley (D-Montgomery). “Every pregnancy is different, and every pregnant person has a right to privacy and bodily autonomy just as doctors must be able to provide the most appropriate care for each of them. The General Assembly should focus on the needs of families in Pennsylvania rather than dictating “one size fits all” health care.”
“With providers in the commonwealth now seeing a majority of patients from across state lines, Pennsylvanians are being forced to prolong care and seek care elsewhere,” said WHC co-chair Rep. Morgan Cephas (D-Philadelphia). “As expected, a Post Roe PA is leading to serious repercussions for residents across our state leaving us in a crucial place where protecting and expanding access to care is more important than ever. I am thankful to our advocates and providers who are on the frontlines in this work and understand the urgency that we must maintain in Harrisburg to protect the rights of Pennsylvanians today and beyond.”