Pennsylvania Supreme Court says abortion care is protected by the state constitution

Reproductive Rights supporter holding a Planned Parenthood sign in front of the Pennsylvania Capitol on Oct. 2, 2021. (Photo: Sean Kitchen)

By Sean Kitchen

January 30, 2024

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court also issued a decision forcing a lower court to take up a challenge to the commonwealth banning Medicaid funds to cover abortion costs.

In major reproductive healthcare news, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court stated on Monday “that the Pennsylvania Constitution secures the fundamental right to bodily autonomy, which includes a right to decide whether to have an abortion or carry a pregnancy to term.”

The high court made the statement in a decision that forces the Commonwealth Court to hear a challenge to a decades-old law that prohibits the use of Medicaid dollars to cover the cost of abortion according to the Associated Press.

The court issued a 3-2 decision that overturned a lower court’s decision to dismiss the case on procedural grounds and put aside a 1985 Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision that upheld a law banning the use of Medicaid dollars to fund abortions the AP went on to report.

The court’s decision is a major victory for Planned Parenthood, who has been advocating for the removal of this barrier to abortion access.

“The rights of Pennsylvanians are due to all Pennsylvanians, not just those wealthy enough to afford them,” Signe Espinoza, the Executive Director of Planned Parenthood PA Advocates, in a statement on Monday.

“Seeking essential health care should not be restricted based on your income bracket; 1 in 4 low-income women seeking an abortion are forced to carry unwanted pregnancies to term because of Medicaid coverage bans. Today’s ruling is the first step toward ending discriminatory access to care, and we remain committed to removing every barrier to abortion.”

Pennsylvania House Speaker Joanna McClinton (D-Philadelphia) called Monday’s decision “an important step in reaffirming Pennsylvania’s commitment to personal freedom, including reproductive freedom.”

“With other states chipping away at women’s rights, this is a good decision for all Pennsylvanians, but especially for women, who should have the right to make decisions about their own body, including reproductive decisions,” she added.


  • Sean Kitchen

    Sean Kitchen is the Keystone’s political correspondent, based in Harrisburg. Sean is originally from Philadelphia and spent five years working as a writer and researcher for Pennsylvania Spotlight.

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