PA Moves Closer to Abortion-Free State as House Passes HB 1977

By Ada Kulesza
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 19 | Posted Dec. 14, 2011

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Sign language: Hundreds of protesters rallied against SB 732 in Harrisburg in September.

On a recent Friday this month, women in an abortion clinic in Philly sit under the fluorescent lights of the waiting room. They’ve been there for hours. A patient is called in and one woman perks up, watching the other head through a door to the back. She deflates, saying, “Damn, I’ve been here since 9:30.”

Another woman asks, “What time is it?” She looks at her phone, sighing, cursing under her breath. “It’s 4:30.”

“Shit, it’ll be worth it, though,” another woman says, shaking her head.

One of them already has seven children. Like hens in a coop, the others cluck their disbelief. “Seven?!”

“Yeah, there is no way I can have another baby.”

The women talk openly about how they got there, and the mistakes they made. They talk about the birth control they will start using after all this is over and the herbs and “folk” remedies they tried in order to avoid being where they are now. And they speculate about how painful the procedure will be.

In the future, abortions might not be so accessible. If a few bills slowly making their way to Gov. Corbett’s desk are enacted, abortions could become more expensive and generally harder to obtain.

Two near-identical bills—Senate Bill 3 and House Bill 1977, which passed the House Monday night—seek to take away insurance coverage for abortions under Obamacare (aka the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act). The president’s plan will require states to establish a health exchange for people to buy medical insurance.

“I think 70 to 80 percent of policies currently cover abortion,” says Maggie Groff, vice president of External Affairs at Planned Parenthood Southeast Pennsylvania. “Some women aren’t even aware that their health insurance covers abortion. You don’t know you have coverage until you need it. This would be a dramatic change.”

If Obamacare takes effect in 2014, abortion will not be covered under any of the policies on the state’s health exchange.

Women who can afford to, can buy separate coverage from a private insurer outside the exchange system. But low-income women whose health care is subsidized won’t get coverage if a pregnancy poses a serious health risk and abortion at a hospital is necessary.

“I’m just amazed at the people who are going to vote for this bill,” said Rep. Babette Josephs (D-Philadelphia) before the 146-45 vote. “They trust their constituents to vote for them, but not to make decisions for their own lives. That is unacceptable.”

Pennsylvania’s laws already prohibit using any public money for an abortion for a woman who qualifies for state medical health assistance, unless her life is danger or the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest. A “medical emergency” amendment that would provide an exception for pregnant women with conditions causing irrevocable physical harm such as severe illness or infertility without abortion of her pregnancy, was rejected.

“If a patient needs a higher level of care, she may need to be seen in a hospital where there are specialists,” Dr. Courtney Schreiber, assistant professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Pennsylvania, writes in an email to PW . “(This legislation) makes no exception for catastrophic health situations such as … paralysis, organ failure and infertility. These bills are a true threat to women’s health.”

In a clinic, an abortion can cost from $350 to $425 and up in Philadelphia. About 80 percent of private insurance plans would cover this procedure in a clinic or a hospital, Schreiber writes. However, in a hospital, the price would be much higher.

“This is a very interesting dynamic here, by legislating what private insurance companies can or cannot cover in their services,” says Rebecca Foley, director of Public Policy at Women’s Way, a Philadelphia-based fundraising and advocacy group centered around women’s issues.

HB 1977 will now move to committee in the Senate, according to a staff member of the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Donna Oberlander (R-Clarion County) and SB 3 will move to the House for approval, according to Joe Pittman, the chief of staff of Sen. Don White (R-Indiana County), who authored the bill. Pittman says the state is exercising its right to decide what elective care will be covered on the health exchange.

Groff, of Planned Parenthood, smells politicking. “(In) the fact that it seems that they’re in a rush to deal with bills about abortion before these exchanges are even set up yet.” (With an election looming and the possibilities of a GOP ouster, it makes sense for a conservative legislature to get its laws on the books.) Another bill that passed the House on Monday night, HB 732, would require abortion clinics to renovate their facilities to comply with surgical standards—costly renovations that could potentially shut clinics down or raise the fees for services, Groff says.

“Between January and June of 2011, the Pennsylvania Legislature has spent over 30 percent of their time on the floor talking about abortion,” Groff says. “Really our lawmakers should be focusing on improving the health care system, instead of using bills as a political divisor.”

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Comments 1 - 19 of 19
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1. Anonymous said... on Dec 14, 2011 at 10:52AM

“People act as though their choices are have 7 kids or have an abortion. Why don't you take the pill, Depo Provera, or keeo your legs closed? The fact that the average age for an abortion these days is 28 and the two top reasons are "It would change my life" and "I can't afford a child" show a lack of planning. You want control of your body? PREVETION is the best medicine.”

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2. Girl Power said... on Dec 14, 2011 at 03:54PM

“Its not just the Christians who are against abortion.”

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3. Girl Power said... on Dec 14, 2011 at 03:55PM

“Its not just the Christians who are against abortion.”

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4. Choice. said... on Dec 14, 2011 at 04:01PM

“You know the keep your legs closed statement is pretty offensive, considering you are implying that it is solely the woman's fault for the pregnancy (They didn't just climb on top of themselves now did they?) If someone wants to have an abortion, and they are of a conscious, decision making state, then why stop them. If they have made the choice that they do not want that child then what kind of life are you forcing upon the child that will be brought into the world unwanted and probably neglected? The pill and other forms of birth control are not 100% effective, so what if they were on them and still got pregnant would you still tell them they do not have the right to do as they choose? If you are against abortion, fine, but it is not right to push someone to have a child they do not want, I mean yeah some people might keep the child anyway, but if they do not want the child that badly then it will probably end up in an orphanage, which could have been avoided.”

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5. Anonymous said... on Dec 14, 2011 at 04:15PM

“I am against abortion, it is not right... NO ONE HAS THE RIGHT TO KILL A BABY AND THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT THEY ARE DOING! We put people in prison for killing someone. and that is where ANYONE should be for killing anyone let alone a BABY!!!!!”

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6. Anonymous said... on Dec 14, 2011 at 04:53PM

“Lawmakers are trying to stop abortion while simultaneously turning their backs on the children who are already born.”

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7. Anonymous said... on Dec 14, 2011 at 05:30PM

“Why the hell isn't adoption an option for these people? Would everyone really rather kill their child then have a background-checked, hand-selected, loving couple (or single person) raise the child? People are waiting years to adopt children in this country, sadly there are not enough Caucasian babies to go around and there is an over-abundance of African-American babies waiting to be adopted (also could be viewed as too many white people afraid to raise a child of another race). There is far too little public education on adoption, both from the side of encouraging people to adopt and encouraging pregnant women to consider making an adoption plan for their baby rather than flushing them out with the medical waste. As a proud white father of a gorgeous African-American baby girl it makes me want to throw up whenever I hear people argue FOR abortion without even mentioning adoption as an option, let alone a BETTER option for society.”

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8. Anonymous said... on Dec 14, 2011 at 05:54PM

“They need to do way instain mother> who kill their babbys. becuse these babby cant frigth back?

It was on the news this mroing a mother in ar who had kill her three kids. they are taking the three babby back to new york too lady to rest my pary are with the father who lost his chrilden ; i am truley sorry for your lots

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9. naksuthin said... on Dec 14, 2011 at 06:50PM

“Support for Israel is immoral and against conservative values. Ron Paul knows this and opposes it.

Every year we give 3 billion dollars to the State of Israel which they then use to subsidize legal abortions to exterminate over 20,000 unborn babies each year.

Even Palestinian women must go to Israel if they want to abort their babies (Palestinians consider abortion to be a crime.)

Meanwhile, if a female Israeli soldier finds herself pregnant, the Israel Military (IDF) will pay for at least two free abortions. If she refuses to kill the fetus, she is immediately dismissed from the army without any benefits or severance pay.

Please Google "Israel, abortions" to find out how American tax dollars are being used to subsidize the extermination of innocent Jewish children of God each year.

Call your Congressman and remind him that US aid to Israel contravenes the Hyde Amendment, which forbids US aid to nations that use government funds to subsidize abor tion services.

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10. karena milford said... on Dec 14, 2011 at 07:06PM

“I'm not a fan of abortion. I think it is used to often as a birth control. I wish more women and girls would consider carrying to term and choosing adoption. Nobody loses in that scenario, eventually, even the birth mother wins when she realizes that she gave an adult and a child the gift of a lifetime. On the other hand, folks, the technology is here, its well known and I don't want to see people going back to using rusty bicycle spokes and knitting needles and bleeding to death because they were unable to make the choice that they felt they needed to make, legally and safely. I agree with making it more expensive, making it harder to obtain and I feel there should be a cap put on the number of times. However, a 13 year old girl who was molested by a neighbor should not be forced to carry a child that she had no choice in making. A woman whose birth control failed and stands a risk of dying because of a pregnancy should not be forced to carry on knowing that she may be leaving her other children without a mother. And unfortunately, everyone makes mistakes, its a huge mistake to make, but don't people deserve the right to correct it as they see fit? Now, I do see a problem with multiple abortions. Once is a mistake. Possibly even twice any more than that is sheer irresponsibility. There are many things that need revised about our abortion laws, but unfortunately, I don't think totally banning them is the answer.”

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11. a compassionate republican said... on Dec 14, 2011 at 08:29PM

“Presently 75 out of 88 children in daycare are subsided in Luzerne County, Pa. This cost Pa. taxpayers $110 to $200 per child per week. Now daycare providers want to Unionize. Please stop enabling poverty and misery under the guise of prolife. Our global society today has made prochoice a prerequisite to be truly prolife.”

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12. You should need a license to procreate said... on Dec 14, 2011 at 10:07PM

“Cap abortion? Why don't we ban the number times you can urinate in a day? So we would rather have people continuing to bleed welfare by popping out a kid every 10 months than letting them take care of it before it is a problem. It should be a requirement that you have a license in order to procreate. That is the problem- not abortion. There are still waste of skin and bone "people" that can't stop spreading their legs. Please- let them do us a favor. I am so tired of my tax dollars going to someone's fun to get her nails done and still manage to not properly cloth or feed the 10 kids they have.

We are born with millions of eggs- let it go people and mind your own business. If you don't like abortions, DON'T GET ONE!

Hide your coat hangers, this is sending us back in time!”

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13. Anonymous said... on Dec 15, 2011 at 02:37PM

“"hens in a coop"! Seriously!? This is dispicable. Abortion is a very safe and common procedure and is a very tough choice for women to make. Those of you who feel the need to expect others to share your views about adoption etc. need to get out more. You want to carry a baby for nine months in front of your other 7 children and just tell them that the new brother or sister just " isn't coming home". Many women who have abortions already have children at home and are making choices that are in the best interest of their families. All of you who are so fortunate and quick to judge. Walk a mile in her shoes.”

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14. Anonymous said... on Dec 15, 2011 at 02:37PM

“"hens in a coop"! Seriously!? This is dispicable. Abortion is a very safe and common procedure and is a very tough choice for women to make. Those of you who feel the need to expect others to share your views about adoption etc. need to get out more. You want to carry a baby for nine months in front of your other 7 children and just tell them that the new brother or sister just " isn't coming home". Many women who have abortions already have children at home and are making choices that are in the best interest of their families. All of you who are so fortunate and quick to judge. Walk a mile in her shoes.”

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15. Anonymous said... on Dec 17, 2011 at 02:07AM

“Abortion is murder! Women in most cases will live a slutty lifestyle then abortion as they would a birth control pill. Some of these women have had over 10 abortions and usually ever pregnancy was by a different male. Why should taxpayers have to pay for this incorrect slutty behavior? Also, what about the fathers, in some cases they do not want to kill their children.
My grandmother had 17 children and everyone of them are successful. All of them were raised on a small 4 room farmhouse in Arkansas. Most people like water are seeking the least path of resistance. Where their is a will their is a way to love, feed and provide for all children born into this world.”

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16. Anonymous said... on Dec 17, 2011 at 04:14PM

“What a bunch of sanctimonious, self-righteous, uneducated losers you are. This issue is, like most issues in this country, ALL about money. The wealthy have ALWAYS had access to a safe - if illegal - medical procedure. Look up George W. Bush's college sweetie. Or the fact that Mitt Romney's cousin DIED from an illegal abortion. No, I am NOT pro-abortion. I AM pro-choice and we all know that if men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament. If we TRULY cared about children in this country, we'd be taking care of our children, ensuring that ALL children had decent healthcare, ensuring that ALL children had access to a quality education, ensuring that ALL children had access to healthy food. Most of you posters are a bunch of hypocrites and sheep. Yes, the anti-choice lobby has framed the issue better - and you have BOUGHT it, hook, line and sinker.”

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17. Kathleen said... on Dec 20, 2011 at 01:19AM

“More neglected children for pedophiles to rape!?! They say orphans make the best victims... What is very frightening is that child porn business is making billions and growing -but you never hear about them getting caught!! (...and wasn't Sandusky a Republican?)

I have a question for the Anti-abortionists: Why don't you get rid of the pedophiles first!!!(Or is anti-abortion the key part of the pedophile's plan?)
In a bad economy, the natural result of anti-abortion laws can only be more rape of children in predator-run charities run by all kinds of "upstanding citizens" who "care about children" like Sandusky did!

I ask every Christian who is supporting anti-abortion laws to consider -would God care more that children are born rather than whether they are raped?
I would wager that children being raped is Satan's will -NOT God's! I hope Pennsylvania decides to go with God and get rid of the pedophiles first before passing anti-abortion laws. Eliminate child porn before abortio”

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18. Anonymous said... on Dec 23, 2011 at 03:01PM

“I know first hand how all of this works from both the prospective of the patient and the nurse who helps. You're all ignorant and blind and severely uneducated. This "baby" is nothing sometimes its not even a drop of blood its just a bunch of blood tissue and some possible sign of blood flow. If you honestly think that any of these are viable babies you are nuts!”

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19. Anonymous said... on Jul 7, 2014 at 11:25AM

“I have heard the phrase "It's my body" to support a womans choice for abortion. I submit this argument would also be valid for legalizing medically assisted suicide .”


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