The Reproductive Freedom Act

In the past two months, not only did Arizona’s Supreme Court allow for the enforcement of an anti-abortion law dating back to the Civil War banning virtually all abortions, but Alabama’s Supreme Court managed a de-facto ban on in-vitro fertilization, which the state legislature swiftly tried to reverse by passing a law unlikely to pass constitutional muster.

It is clear that the reliance on the judiciary is not a tenable strategy for anybody concerned about reproductive freedom. This same reliance on the U.S. Supreme Court created the national patchwork of rights that we have today, with abortion outlawed in at least 14 states across the country.

Both abortion and in-vitro fertilization are still technically legal here in Pennsylvania, thanks to the ironically named “Abortion Control Act,” which specifies that abortion is legal up to 24 weeks, and allows for in-vitro fertilization with heavy regulation, but also includes numerous restrictions on choice, from spousal and parental notifications to waiting periods, to ridiculous limitations on the medical professionals capable of performing an abortion. These restrictions were designed to make abortion expensive, inconvenient, stigmatized, and to limit access. In 1992, the Supreme Court upheld all of those restrictions except the spousal notification requirement, and that act became the playbook for other states looking to chisel away abortion rights.

That playbook has been successful – in many states, abortion was already inaccessible prior to Dobbs. Even here in Pennsylvania, touted as a haven, we only have 20 operational clinics in a state of nearly 13 million people. This is an unfairly burdensome and discriminatory legal regime, made possible by legislative inaction at the federal level.

Of course, Pennsylvania could certainly be worse off – just look at recent developments in Arizona, to name but one example – but we could also do better. We should do better.

It is well past time we fixed Pennsylvania’s embarrassing contribution to the national legal landscape of abortion. I have introduced numerous pieces of legislation to address this debacle and am finalizing legislation to repeal the great bulk of the “Abortion Control Act” and replace it with a new legal framework that treats abortion as health care, with an emphasis on protecting patients’ independence and privacy.  

The U.S. Supreme Court’s 6-3 anti-choice majority has left reproductive matters to the states. And so, it is time for Pennsylvania to lead the way as an example of rational, compassionate and equitable reproductive care. It is time to repeal the “Abortion Control Act.” It is time to pass the “Reproductive Freedom Act.”