Abortions are already widely regulated, but Pennsylvania lawmakers have spent a large portion of their time in recent months drafting even more rules. They ended 2011 by passing a controversial bill, SB 732, which requires abortion providers to meet the same costly building-construction and personnel standards as ambulatory surgical facilities.
That bill came in the wake of authorities shutting down a Philadelphia clinic operated by Dr. Kermit Gosnell, who is accused of operating in horrific conditions, killing seven live infants and one woman. Abortion supporters and opponents alike decried the Gosnell case. But pro-choice advocates say the new law is a thinly veiled attempt to price abortion providers out of the market.
Nor have we heard the last word from anti-choice legislators.
In February, state Rep. Darryl Metcalfe (R-Cranberry) began seeking co-sponsors for what he calls the "Whole Woman's Health Funding Priorities Act." The bill, according to a Metcalfe memo, would prohibit the state Department of Health from contracting with or providing grants to "any entity that provides non-federally qualified abortions." Translation: no state money for organizations, including Planned Parenthood, that provide abortions in cases other than rape, incest or a threat to the mother's life.
That bill would be added to the other abortion-related bills that women's rights advocates are already fighting:
House Bill 1077: The bill would require any woman seeking an abortion to have an ultrasound and "position the screen so that the patient is able to view the ultrasound test in its entirety," though the woman doesn't have to view the screen. The woman would also receive a print-out of the ultrasound image. The bill passed out of committee and is pending in the House, although a vote on it was delayed after public outcry.
Senate Bill 3/House Bill 1977: If President Obama's federal health-care reform is upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, states would set up marketplaces for consumers to buy insurance plans not available from an employer. These bills would prohibit health plans in the exchange from covering abortions, except in cases "for which the expenditure of public funds would be permitted" — again, those involving rape, incest or a threat to the mother's life. The bills do allow women to purchase abortion coverage outside of the exchange — "provided the individual pays a separate premium for the coverage."