While abortion is legal in the commonwealth, the antiquated state law preserving the right includes numerous restrictions on access to care. A new piece of legislation would repeal those barriers and allow government funding for abortion facilities.
As Republicans attempt to ban abortions by any means necessary, a Democratic lawmaker introduced legislation on Wednesday that would make access to care easier and secure Pennsylvanians’ reproductive health care rights.
Rep. Kristine Howard (D-Chester) introduced House Bill 428, also called the Bodily Autonomy Act, which would undo all of the current, unnecessary restrictions on access to care, protect a person’s right to choose, and ensure all procedures are done safely.
Howard’s bill would effectively repeal the 1982 Abortion Control Act, which allows abortions in the commonwealth, but simultaneously raises obstacles to actually obtaining abortion care.
Abortions in the state are legal up to 24 weeks of pregnancy. Yet there are numerous restrictions in place. A person seeking an abortion must have their pregnancy confirmed by a medical provider, receive counseling, wait 24 hours, and give informed, written consent.
The current act also requires parental consent in the case of minors seeking an abortion, except in certain cases in which a court would have to waive the requirement. And, except in medical emergencies, a wife seeking an abortion must provide signed consent from their spouse.
Finally, the existing law also prohibits any federal or state funding for facilities that perform abortions, except in cases of medical emergencies, rape or incest.
Under Howard’s bill, a person would no longer need to receive counseling nor wait 24 hours to obtain an abortion. Minors seeking an abortion would no longer need parental consent and spousal consent would no longer apply either.
It would also allow for a patient to meet with a physician electronically via telemedicine for the initial appointment to determine the gestational age of the fetus, as well as for nonsurgical medical abortions.
The bill does not contain a restriction on federal or state funding for abortion facilities.
The Bodily Autonomy Act was referred to the House Judiciary Committee. With a slim Democratic majority in the state House, it should pass. That may not be the case in the Republican-controlled Senate.