Women’s Health Caucus condemns Texas’ ban on abortion

HARRISBURG, Sept. 2 – Highlighting the fact that abortion law is now governed solely by the states, and only Gov. Tom Wolf’s veto pen stands in the way of similar legislation becoming law in Pennsylvania this session, the four co-chairs of the bicameral Women’s Health Caucus today issued strong condemnation of the recently signed-into-law Texas ban on abortion.

In the middle of the night, the Supreme Court of the United States issued a ruling that effectively overturned Roe v. Wade for the time being. In a one-paragraph decision, issued after no hearing, the Supreme Court denied an injunction of Texas’ law that places a ban on abortion after six weeks.

“We must not be surprised that the U.S. Supreme Court declined to stop Texas from implementing its restrictive abortion law,” said state Rep. Mary Jo Daley, D-Montgomery. “In Pennsylvania, we will continue to stand up for the fundamental right of women to choose the best paths for themselves and their families. Restricting reproductive choice is bad for public health, bad for birthing people and bad for families. Nothing good can come from restrictive, unconstitutional health practices, and the very idea of allowing private citizens to sue abortion providers and anyone else who helps a woman obtain an abortion is abhorrent.”

The co-chairs noted that most people are unaware they are pregnant at just six weeks, with 85% of abortions in Texas occurring after six weeks, meaning the new law is essentially a near-complete ban.

“Texas Republicans’ decision to restrict virtually all access to abortion care in the state is telling of a larger, national attack on reproductive rights,” said state Sen. Amanda Cappelletti, D-Montgomery/Delaware. “Here in Pennsylvania, anti-choice legislators have brought similar bills to the legislature. We will not stand down against these attacks. I will continue to speak out against any measure to limit access to abortion. Abortion care is health care, and health care is a human right.”

Texas’ law, S.B. 8, is part of a national, coordinated effort to roll back the clock and prohibit access to reproductive health care, the co-chairs said. Pennsylvania is not immune to these attacks on health care, as Republicans approved their own six-week ban, H.B. 904, in of the House Health Committee earlier this year.

“Unsafe abortions remain among the leading causes of death in America and are contributing factors to our ongoing maternal mortality crisis, and this egregious law only stands to exacerbate this devastation,” said state Rep. Morgan Cephas, D-Phila. “Instead of truly being ‘pro-life’ by finding safe and accessible contraceptive measures that protect and uphold the lives of women, birthing people and children, Texas enacted a law that is essentially an eventual death sentence.

“Another insidious layer to this law is that lawmakers have absolved themselves from all repercussions by encouraging vigilantism from anti-abortion extremists who are now able to sue anyone who’s getting an abortion or assisting with one. This ultimately sets a bleak precedent for other states seeking to overturn Roe v. Wade. Thankfully, members of our caucus, our colleagues and Governor Wolf successfully thwarted similar attempts to restrict abortion rights here in our legislature, maintaining access to safe abortion options for all Pennsylvanians.”

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, six-week bans on abortion could lead to serious complications – and even maternal mortality since complications that threaten an individual’s health cannot be detected until later in pregnancy.

“The Supreme Court’s decision to decline to block S.B. 8, the dangerous and extreme Texas abortion ban, will cause immediate and serious harm to countless women,” said state Sen. Judy Schwank, D-Berks. “That it includes a provision which allows private individuals, including anti-abortion extremists with no relationship to the patient, to file lawsuits against anyone who helps a patient access abortion after six weeks is abhorrent. This unprecedented assault on a woman’s right to choose is not only shocking, it is also in clear violation of the five-decades-old Roe v. Wade decision. I worry that the result of this cruel and dangerous threat to reproductive healthcare access will have grave implications for women not only in Texas, but nationwide.”

Members of the Women’s Health Caucus said they want to remind Pennsylvanians that, while they are standing in solidarity with those negatively impacted by the new Texas law, abortion remains legal in Pennsylvania, and Gov. Wolf has guaranteed a veto if any restrictive legislation reaches his desk.

“While abortions are safe and remain legal in Pennsylvania,” Schwank said, “we must stand in solidarity to protect reproductive health and rights across the country.”