HARRISBURG, Dec. 11 – Members of the legislature's Women’s Health Caucus today unveiled their Pennsylvania Agenda for Women's Health. Phase one of the legislative agenda includes seven pieces of legislation.
The caucus is co-chaired by Rep. Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny; and Sens. Judy Schwank, D-Berks, and Chuck McIlhinney, R-Bucks.
Frankel said, "The Pennsylvania Agenda for Women’s Health represents a genuine cross-section of issues and concerns facing women today. This is a comprehensive collection of bills based on what women want in regard to their own health. By addressing these issues, we can help women in the commonwealth live longer, healthier lives. That is the goal."
Schwank said, "Our agenda is a diverse one because that reflects the lives Pennsylvania women face every day. Each woman has a different story to tell and issues that must be addressed. These issues are not more important because they concern women. They are important because they affect all of us."
"Protecting women’s health is a bipartisan concern, and it is important to work together to ensure women receive the services and care they need," McIlhinney said. "I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to find common ground on these issues and take action on initiatives to advance women’s health."
The bills in the Pennsylvania Agenda for Women's Health include:
- Workplace accommodations for pregnant women: H.B. 1892, sponsored by Rep. Mark Painter, D-Montgomery; and S.B. 1209, sponsored by Sen. Matt Smith, D-Allegheny. This legislation would require a covered employer to make reasonable accommodations related to pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions unless those accommodations would prove an undue hardship on the employer's operations.
- Sanitary conditions for nursing mothers: H.B. 1895, sponsored by Rep. Mary Jo Daley, D-Montgomery; Senate introduction pending. This legislation would require employers to provide a private, sanitary space for employees who need to express breast milk. It would fix two main loopholes in federal law. It would apply to all employees, including those that are exempt from federal overtime provisions. Secondly, it would require employers to provide a private, sanitary space for mothers to express milk beyond one year after birth. The legislation mirrors the federal provision that exempts small employers from these requirements if they would present an undue hardship to the employer.
- Ensuring access to health care facilities: H.B. 1891, sponsored by Rep. Matt Bradford, D-Montgomery; and S.B. 1208, sponsored by Sen. Larry Farnese, D-Phila. This legislation would create 15-foot buffer zones around health care facilities where picketing, patrolling or demonstrating that blocks patients' access to the facilities would be banned. Some cities such as Pittsburgh and some states such as Colorado and Massachusetts have passed such laws already.
- Pay equity legislation: H.B. 1890, sponsored by Reps. Erin Molchany, D-Allegheny, and Brian Sims, D-Phila.; and S.B. 1212, sponsored by Sens. Rob Teplitz, D-Dauphin, and Anthony Williams, D-Phila. This legislation would clarify and update the legal standards for pay-equity lawsuits.
- Increased eligibility for breast and cervical cancer screenings: H.B. 1900, sponsored by Rep. Maria Donatucci, D-Phila./Delaware; Senate introduction pending. This legislation would allow women between ages of 30 and 65 to qualify for the state Healthy Woman Program if they meet all other applicable requirements.
- Equitable protections for domestic violence victims: H.B. 1796, sponsored by Rep. Todd Stephens, R-Montgomery; Senate introduction pending. This legislation would ban municipal ordinances that penalize crime victims for calling for help.
- Stop intimate partner harassment (ban "revenge by invasion of privacy"): sponsored by Rep. Tina Davis, D-Bucks; and S.B. 1167, sponsored by Schwank. This legislation would ban publishing any photo or video identifying another person, who is naked or engaging in a sexual act, without that person’s consent.
The Pennsylvania Women’s Health Caucus is a bipartisan, bicameral caucus of legislators partnering with interest groups and advocacy organizations seeking to develop and implement legislation and social policy that protects and respects a woman’s right to make private, personal medical decisions.