Legislators Announce Agenda for Women’s Health

HARRISBURG, Dec. 12 – The Women’s Health Caucus, a bipartisan, bicameral legislative group supporting women’s health issues, today introduced this session's Pennsylvania Agenda for Women’s Health in a news conference. The agenda is a package of bills supported by the caucus.

Caucus co-chairs state Sen. Judy Schwank, D-Berks; and state Reps. Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny, and Frank Farry, R-Bucks, were joined by outside advocates to discuss the agenda.

The Agenda for Women’s Health covers a broad range of proposals that advance three main goals to enhance the health and well-being of women, families and communities: safety and dignity; economic security; and access to health services across the lifespan.

“The Women’s Health Agenda is about empowering the 6.5 million women living in Pennsylvania,” Schwank said. “These bills will help them, and, in turn, help Pennsylvania prosper. The ability for our state to grow culturally and economically depends on how we face new challenges. The Women’s Health Caucus recognizes that we cannot afford attitudes and practices that hamper, stifle and waste the talent, skills and creativity women – and sometimes only women – can bring to the table.”

Women’s Health Caucus co-chair Sen. Chuck McIlhinney, R-Bucks, said: “Members from all political parties have a shared interest in empowering women to live healthier, happier lives. It is encouraging that the scope of this effort has expanded in recent years to include not only physical health, but also the financial and emotional well-being of women as well. The Women’s Health Caucus has done a tremendous job of bringing more of these issues to the forefront, and it is an honor to work with all of the members of this body to advance bills that promote a safer and healthier future for women.”

Frankel said: “The PA Agenda for Women’s Health provides a clear vision to address the issues facing women in the commonwealth today. At a time when we’re hearing from women that they’ve had enough of the constant attacks on their reproductive choices, lack of concern for their safety and barriers to success in the workplace, our agenda will hopefully show them that there are legislators in Harrisburg who are listening and making a plan to pass legislation that will enhance their lives and the lives of their families.”

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PA Agenda for Women’s Health

The PA Agenda for Women’s Health covers a broad range of proposals that advance three principal goals to enhance the health and well-being of women, families, and our communities.

                                                                               

Safety & Dignity

Women should have the right to feel safe wherever they are. We support legislation that advances women’s safety, protects their privacy rights and respects their individual dignity.

Protections of personal privacy and dignity

  • Expanding intimate images statute
  • Addressing the issue of “sextortion”
  • Fighting “street harassment”
  • Ensuring reasonable accommodations for women incarcerated during pregnancy
  • Strengthening protections against sexual harassment in the workplace

Protection for victims of intimate partner violence

  • Eliminating cellphone policies that hamper victims’ efforts to escape
  • Enabling domestic violence victims to avoid leases
  • Giving public housing victims of stalking or domestic or sexual violence a right to relocate to other public housing

Governor Wolf’s “It’s on Us” campaign against campus sexual violence

  • Ensuring online/anonymous reporting
  • Removing disincentives to reporting, e.g.  providing institutional amnesty for reporting
  • Sexual education and affirmative consent
  • Comprehensive anti-violence policy

Economic Security

Women deserve a fair opportunity to work and to earn a living wage to care for themselves and their families.

Fair Wages & Income

  • Raising the minimum wage
  • Closing Pennsylvania’s wage pay gap
  • Applying the minimum wage to tipped workers
  • Retirement security for widows

Eliminate Obstacles to Work

  • Ensuring paid family and medical leave for working families
  • Helping lift working families out of poverty
  • Establishing a Women Veterans Task Force
  • Ensuring reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers and nursing mothers
  • Promoting access to affordable child care


Access to Health Services across the Lifespan

Women have unique health care needs and are often the primary care providers in most households. They must be able to grow and build healthy families, when and if they choose to do so, with access to family planning, maternal and neo-natal health care. 

Protecting access to reproductive health care

  • Protecting broad access to the most effective family planning services
  • Ensuring the availability of accurate, scientific information and medical independence in the patient/provider relationship

Maternal/neo-natal health

  • Call for consumer protections in health insurance so all Pennsylvanians have coverage for essential care like maternity care, mental health services, and dental and vision care for children
  • Encourage screening and treatment for post-partum depression
  • Support access to doulas and midwives to reduce rates of infant and maternal mortality

Support care for diseases disproportionately impacting women

  • Protecting state funds dedicated to breast and cervical cancer screening and treatment
  • Promote respite care for caregivers