Women under attack in Pa.

Posted on April 15, 2012

Philly.com, April 15, 2012 by Michelle Vaughn

Michele Vaughn is chair of the Chester County Democratic Committee

Women are under attack in Pennsylvania.

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.

House Bill 1077, which is intended to humiliate, intimidate, and punish women who seek abortions, is one of the most reprehensible pieces of legislation Harrisburg has ever produced.

This legislation, deceptively titled the “Women’s Right to Know Act” and drafted under the pretext of providing informed consent, was cosponsored by seven male Republican state representatives who serve Chester County.

HB 1077 mandates a medically unnecessary procedure, including the use of an invasive transvaginal probe. In addition, it 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.

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, it is another example of government intrusion into women’s personal lives. It is purely about the prejudices of politicians and political organizations that insist on 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, one must oppose this bill because it would set a dangerous precedent by legislating specific diagnostic protocols, jeopardizing the open dialogue between doctor and patient.

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

Women should be able to rely on sound medical advice rather than have to endure politically motivated procedures. This procedure is medically unnecessary, and is opposed by the Pennsylvania Chapter of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Our legislature is overstepping its bounds in its attempt to dispense medical advice.

Since January 2011, this Republican-led 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 women’s 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.

HB 1077, 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, yet our representatives in Harrisburg think subjecting women 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 the Commonwealth.

This is a prime example of how Harrisburg is broken. Elected officials need to focus on getting Pennsylvanians back to work, lowering property tax burdens, and funding education. Personal agendas have no place in the 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, including the Women’s Rights Coalition in Chester County, 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. Please support state, local, and federal candidates who will protect women’s reproductive rights.


Posted in: Pennsylvania