Pennsylvania lawmaker says there will be a national abortion ban if Trump is elected - TAI News
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Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally on Wednesday, May 1, 2024, at the Waukesha County Expo Center in Waukesha, Wisconsin. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

With restrictions on abortion and significant closures of clinics since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June 2022, and another ruling on abortion from the court expected in June, advocates and lawmakers say it’s vital to elect pro-abortion rights candidates this year.

“Majorities matter,” state Sen. Amanda Cappelletti told the Pennsylvania Independent, adding that it’s who voters elect that makes the difference when it comes to the future of abortion access.

In November 2022, Democrats won a slim majority in the state House, which they have retained through several special elections. 

“The people that we are electing, from our state representatives all the way up to the top with President Biden, are the individuals who are going to fight to secure reproductive rights and reproductive freedoms with federal legislation,” Cappelletti said.

Although abortion is legal in Pennsylvania up to 23 weeks of pregnancy, restrictions to access continue to be an issue.

Due to the state’s Abortion Control Act, patients are required to submit to state-mandated counseling that Planned Parenthood says includes information designed to discourage people from choosing to have an abortion, followed by a 24-hour waiting period before the procedure is provided.

Additionally, the number of clinics where abortions are available has shrunk considerably since before Roe fell.

Nearly 12 million people live in Pennsylvania, and the state currently has just 20 freestanding clinics where abortion is available, down from over 145 in the late 1980s. 

In August 2023, Signe Espinoza, executive director of Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Advocates, told the American Independent that the number of patients coming from outside the state for abortion care increased by about 74% after the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization that overturned Roe.

In January, Democratic state Rep. Tarik Khan announced legislation to remove some of the state’s abortion restrictions.

The bill aims to overturn Act 122, a 2011 law referred to as a TRAP or targeted regulation of abortion providers law, which requires abortion facilities to comply with the same regulations as ambulatory surgical facilities.

“Unfortunately, senseless restrictions still exist in Pennsylvania that block access to safe abortion,” Khan said at a January press conference announcing his bill. “Most notably, in 2011, there was a bill that was passed that forced devastating mandates on abortion providers, passed into law by an anti-choice governor, Gov. Corbett, and a Republican Legislature.”

“There are still barriers in place for people who are seeking care that we are working really hard to get overturned or waived in this state, which I think is so important,” Melissa Reed, the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Keystone, told the Pennsylvania Independent during a roundtable discussion in January 2024.

Cappelletti highlighted what could happen in the state if the Supreme Court rules in favor of Idaho in a case involving an Idaho law that bans abortion and the federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act, or EMTALA.

Cappelletti said if the court decides that Idaho’s clinicians and hospitals are no longer required to perform an abortion as part of emergency medical treatment of a pregnant person, legislatures in other states will also have the right to ban the procedure in such instances. Patients will have to seek treatment elsewhere, which could mean more patients from nearby states with abortion bans, such as West Virginia, could come to Pennsylvania. 

“The loss of EMTALA coverage puts doctors and patients in a state of fear and hesitation during crucial moments of medical need,” Beulah Osueke, the executive director of New Voices for Reproductive Justice, said in an email sent to the Pennsylvania Independent. “It’s important to remember that restrictions to abortion have rippling effects on the way we, as a country and society, approach health and wellness overall.”

Cappelletti said she doesn’t expect every person casting a ballot to be a one-issue voter on abortion, but she thinks if Republicans take the White House in the fall, there will be a federal abortion ban.

“Make no mistake about it, Donald Trump and the extreme MAGA Republicans have made it very clear: If he wins the White House, there will be a national abortion ban. It will be a national assault on reproductive rights and our abilities to make decisions about our own bodies, our own health care, if, when, and how to start a family,” Cappelletti said. “If the thought of a loved one dying because they couldn’t receive the care that they needed doesn’t chill you to the bone, I’m not sure what else to say.”

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The Pennsylvania Independent is a project of American Independent Media, a 501(c)(4) organization whose mission is to use journalism to educate the public, giving them the information they need about local and federal issues.