We’re going to keep beating the drum over what’s happening on reproductive rights at the state capitol in Harrisburg. Let me be clear, yet again: Women’s access to reproductive healthcare is in serious jeopardy due to several pieces of state legislation. House Bill 574 and the amended Senate Bill 732, amended and hijacked by Senator Bob Mensch of Easton, would alter the legal playing field for abortion clinics in ways that would be so onerous that clinics would have to spend hundreds of thousands, maybe over a million, dollars to comply.
Supporters of HB 574 and the Mensch amendment, including the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference and the Pennsylvania Family Institute, have wrapped themselves in the language of women’s safety, as if we’re all supposed to believe that suddenly they want women to have safe access to abortion care. Try wrapping your head around that one.
But yesterday the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference showed their true colors in an email sent to their listserv. The Conference made clear their true reasons for supporting the legislation and implied that they support the legislation because it will, indeed, cut off access to abortion care:
Today, the Senate voted 38 to 12 to pass Senate Bill 732, which, thanks to the Mensch Amendment added on Wednesday, June 8, would hold abortion facilities to the same fire and safety standards, personnel and equipment requirements, and quality assurance procedures as other freestanding ambulatory surgical facilities. The Mensch Amendment was a courageous stand for the pro-life cause. (emphasis added)
“A courageous stand for the pro-life,” i.e. pro-government, “cause”? Need I say more? Only the American Family Association of Pennsylvania- the crazy Uncle Charlie of the pro-government, anti-gay crowd in PA- has been honest enough to admit that they’re supporting the bills because they could close clinics. Diane Gramley of AFA of PA sent an email to their listserv on May 9 that said:
The passage of such legislation would significantly reduce the number of abortions, abortion facilities and abortionists in Pennsylvania.
The pro-government advocates can try to hide behind the language of “safety,” but their motivations are obvious.
(Aside: I’ve been struggling with what framing to use to describe those who want women to have no access to reproductive healthcare. I’m not a fan of “pro-life” or “anti-choice.” I’ve settled on “pro-government” for the moment because these are people who believe that the government should make private medical decisions for women. If you have any other ideas, let me know.)
Update, 12:50pm: The Lancaster Intelligencer Journal has called out the supporters of HB 574 and the amended SB 732 for the same reason.
Forcing clinics to enlarge room sizes, which already are covered by building codes, or replace existing elevators with hospital-grade elevators has nothing to do with protecting a woman’s health.
Pennsylvania has strict abortion laws. That’s as it should be.
But the Gosnell situation is being exploited to make it even more difficult for women in the state to obtain an abortion.