Pennsylvania introduces abortion legislation

Editorials featured in the Forum section are solely the opinions of their individual authors.

In the Pennsylvania General Assembly, the House Bill 1077 — also referred to as the Women’s Right to Know Act — has been making headway since its introduction last October and has 112 co-sponsors. Although the bill claims to be for women’s rights, the actual details of the bill imply the opposite.

Bill 1077 would require a woman to view and sign for copies of her fetal ultrasound photos before she could get an abortion.

If the woman had the ultrasound more than two weeks before her abortion, the doctor would be required to offer her an ultrasound video of the fetus and inform her of the fetus’ heartbeat and age prior to the abortion.

Proponents of the bill claim that it would enhance women’s rights by making sure they were giving “truly informed consent” before having an abortion. Maria Vitale Gallagher, the legislative director of the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation, told, “This legislation represents a victory for patients’ rights. Women have a right to all relevant information about their pregnancies. With this additional knowledge, women can be empowered to make informed choices for themselves and their families.”

This bill isn’t empowering women; it’s trying to bully them into not getting an abortion. Gallagher claims that “women have been pressured into making a decision on abortion without having all the facts,” but statistics on the women who receive abortions reveal just the opposite.

A 2005 study published in the journal Perspectives on Reproductive and Sexual Health showed that only 14 percent of women who got an abortion said they had the procedure because their partner wanted them to, and even those women often had additional reasons as to why they wanted the abortion.

Furthermore, 60 percent of women who receive abortions are already mothers, meaning that they have already gone through pregnancy and are well aware of the facts of child-bearing. To claim that these women do not have all the facts is horrifically condescending.

Pennsylvania has already tried to make it extremely difficult for women to receive an abortion. If a woman wants an abortion, she must already receive state-directed counseling that includes information designed to discourage her from having one, and then wait 24 hours before the procedure is provided.

House Bill 574, which passed last year, placed additional requirements on abortion facilities with the claim that it would make abortions safer for women. However, its requirements — including dedicated parking spaces, medical-grade elevators, and extended hallways — seem less about women’s safety and more about placing financial burdens on abortion facilities.

If the state’s goal has been to make it more difficult to maintain an abortion facility, it has been working: The number of abortion providers declined by 11 percent between 2005 and 2008, and 82 percent of Pennsylvania counties do not have abortion providers. House Bill 1077 (whose numerous co-sponsors, it’s worth noting, are overwhelmingly male) merely hopes to further interfere with a woman’s ability to receive an abortion. It places an additional hurdle for women to cross — and an additional financial burden, since the required ultrasound must be billed separately from the actual abortion.

This bill is expected to come up for vote soon in the Pennsylvania General Assembly. Contact Penn. House Representative Dan Frankel and Penn. Senator Jay Costa, both of whom represent our area of Pittsburgh, and let them know that House Bill 1077 isn’t advancing women’s rights — it’s infringing upon them.