Women are under attack in Pennsylvania

Posted on April 4, 2012

Mainline Media News, April 4, 2012 by Michele Vaughn

At a time when our governor and our legislature should be fixing unemployment, improving education and repairing our crumbling infrastructure, they have instead focused their political and personal agenda on attacking women’s rights foremost: by introducing House Bill 1077, one of the most appalling and reprehensible pieces of legislation Harrisburg has ever produced.

This legislation, which was introduced by seven male Republican Pennsylvania state representatives who serve Chester County including John Lawrence (PA-13), Tim Hennessey (PA-26), Curt Schroder (PA-155), Dan Truitt (PA-156), Steven Barrar (PA-160) and Tom Killion (PA-168), is deceptively titled the “Women’s Right to Know Act.”

Drafted under the pretext of providing informed consent, this law is intended to humiliate, intimidate and punish women who seek abortions.

In addition to requiring an invasive transvaginal ultrasound for all women seeking an abortion, House Bill 1077 mandates a 24-hour waiting period between the ultrasound and the procedure. In addition to being burdensome, the legislation’s punitive intent is evident in the criminal penalties it imposes for failure to properly follow all the steps in this complicated legislation.

House Bill 1077 is a bill that mandates a medically unnecessary procedure, including the use of an invasive transvaginal probe. This bill is designed to intimidate and humiliate women. This bill is a deliberate intrusion upon a woman’s right to privacy, and it is intended to victimize a woman at a time when she is most vulnerable.

This bill has no basis in medicine. Instead, this is just another example of government intrusion into women’s personal lives. It is purely about the personal prejudice of politicians and political organizations insinuating themselves into what should be a personal judgment between a woman and her physician.

Regardless of one’s position on the right to choose, you have to oppose this bill solely because it would set a dangerous precedent by legislating specific diagnostic protocols. This bill would significantly jeopardize the open dialogue in the doctor-patient relationship.

The decision to terminate a pregnancy is intensely personal and agonizing. Furthering the anguish a woman is experiencing at this difficult time is wrong. This bill only serves to humiliate and shame a woman into changing her decision. Perhaps the representatives who introduced, sponsored and supported this legislation have forgotten that women can vote. We will be watching and taking notice of the legislators who support this legislation, and we will make our voices heard at the ballot box in November. We will not forget.

This legislation interferes with the doctor-patient relationship and violates the privacy guarantees under HIPPA. Women should be able to rely on sound medical advice rather than to have to endure politically motivated mandated medical procedures and advice. This procedure is medically unnecessary and the Pennsylvania Chapter of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists opposes it. Our legislature should not be involved in giving medical advice; it is overstepping its bounds.

Since January 2011, this Republican-led Pennsylvania state legislature has launched a full-scale attack on women’s health with numerous bills aimed at restricting access to vital reproductive-health services. Four bills, in particular, threaten women’s health and their right to choose to have an abortion – one under the guise of patient safety and rights while the others are blatant attempts to chip away at a well-established legal right.

This bill, led primarily by Republicans, is clearly another politically motivated attack on women and does nothing positive for Pennsylvania women and families. There are pressing issues that need to be addressed – crumbling roads and bridges, underfunded schools, job creation, property-tax reform – and yet our representatives in Harrisburg think requiring women to be subjected to unnecessary medical procedures is not only relevant but worthy of discussion and votes. This is a personal issue and not one that focuses on the betterment of Pennsylvania as a whole.

This is another prime example of how Harrisburg is broken. Our elected officials need to focus more on getting Pennsylvanians back to work, lowering property-tax burdens and funding education. Personal agendas have no place in the Pennsylvania General Assembly.

As a woman, I have had enough. As Democrats, we have had enough.

Everything we have fought for is threatened by these attacks. Women across Pennsylvania, just like this grassroots organization here in Chester County, the Women’s Rights Coalition, are doing all we can to stop this attack. This egregious invasion of privacy is intolerable and we will oppose it. Without reproductive freedom, every right we and our predecessors fought for will essentially be nullified.

Your support, your voice, and your vote can make the difference between victory and defeat. Please support state, local, and federal candidates who will protect women’s reproductive rights.

To join other women and men who are standing up for women’s rights in Chester County, please contact the Women’s Rights Coalition of Southern Chester County at womensrightscoalition@gmail.com.

Posted in: Pennsylvania