State lawmakers roll out legislation to facilitate safe abortion access

HARRISBURG, Jan. 22 – Today, on the 51st anniversary of the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Roe v. Wade, state Rep. Tarik Khan, D-Philadelphia, hosted a news conference at the state Capitol announcing the introduction of legislation regarding abortion rights. Rep. Khan was joined by fellow legislators and abortion-rights advocates.  

The legislation aims to remove unnecessary obstacles to safe abortion access by eliminating the requirement that abortion facilities meet the same regulations as ambulatory surgical centers. It would also remove the excessive mandate that abortion providers maintain admitting privileges or have transfer agreements at hospitals, which only blocks access to care. 

The legislators who have also prime-sponsored Khan’s bill are state Reps. La'Tasha D. Mayes, D-Allegheny; Mary Jo Daley, D-Montgomery; Mary Issacson, D-Phila.; Gina H. Curry, D-Delaware; Melissa Shusterman, D-Chester; Danielle Friel Otten, D-Chester; Tara Probst, D-Monroe/Pike; Heather Boyd, D-Delaware; Liz Hanbidge, D-Montgomery; Leanne Krueger, D-Delaware; and Elizabeth Fiedler, D-Philadelphia. 

"As a nurse, I know that restrictive abortion laws do not lower abortion rates — they just make them less safe," Khan said. "We must remove any unnecessary requirements from facilities that provide this care. Our bill increases access to safe abortion by increasing people's access to safe abortion providers."

"It is unacceptable that in 2024, many women in Pennsylvania still struggle to access affordable abortion-related services due to outdated laws and unnecessary obstacles imposed on health care providers," Shusterman said. "I'm proud to co-sponsor this legislation that aims to improve access to safe reproductive health care for all women in the commonwealth, regardless of where they live."

"We must focus on removing undue barriers to abortion access like those created by TRAP laws," Fiedler said. "Requiring abortion providers to meet baseless facility standards can delay or stop patients from receiving reproductive care, potentially jeopardizing their health."

“Long before I became a state legislator, I was a Reproductive Justice policy advocate,” said Mayes, who Chairs the PA Legislative Black Caucus and Women’s Health Caucus’ Joint Subcommittee on Women and Girls of Color. “I stood on the very same steps in 2011 where my colleagues stand today speaking to a filled Rotunda in opposition to creating this unnecessary ambulatory surgical center standard. The coalition was called, ‘We’ve Had Enough.’ Since that time, half the abortion clinics in this state closed and Roe v. Wade was overturned but, my colleagues and I and the women and abortion seekers of this commonwealth – we’ve had enough. I’m proud to co-sponsor this bill to expand abortion access.”

"I appreciate that our House Democratic Caucus is working to overturn this stringent and unnecessary barrier to abortion care,” Boyd said. “I am proud to join this effort to reverse TRAP laws, and continue advocating for reproductive freedom, ensuring equitable access to health care, and safeguarding the constitutional right to choose.”

"Abortion is a legal and overwhelmingly safe procedure. Placing medically unnecessary regulations on facilities that provide abortion care services does nothing to improve patient safety; it does the opposite by shutting down legitimate health centers and limiting access to safe care," said Friel Otten. "This legislation will help to protect Pennsylvanians' access to care and the right of individuals to make their own personal medical decisions."

“Today, on what should have been a celebration of the 51st anniversary Roe vs Wade precedent, we find ourselves in an unimaginable position to have to fight for reproductive healthcare and the right to abortion,” said Curry. “This legislation will expand access to safe and legalized abortion and protect bodily autonomy while combatting maternal mortality and morbidity.”

"Abortion is safe and legal in Pennsylvania from a technical standpoint," said Daley, Co-Chair of the Pennsylvania Women’s Health Caucus. "But access to abortion care remains encumbered by needless regulatory requirements. Right now, abortion providers are regulated the same as ambulatory surgical facilities, even though more than half of all abortions are medication abortions which don't require surgery at all. This simple misclassification is a major hurdle in setting up facilities that are legally able to provide abortion care.” 

"In a country that continues to criminalize abortion,” said Daley, “Representative Khan's bill is an important and meaningful step toward creating a reliable abortion care network. This bill will remove unnecessary obstacles, expand access to essential care, and ensure that Pennsylvania has the capacity to help any women in need whether they are from our commonwealth or the rest of the country."

Abortion rights advocates expressed support for the legislation. 

"Abortion is legal in Pennsylvania, but there are hurdles that make it inaccessible for many Pennsylvanians," said Planned Parenthood PA Advocates Executive Director Signe Espinoza. "Unnecessary testing, administrative requirements, cost, and geographic access to clinics are putting abortion out of reach for those who need it, but this bill is a huge step in the right direction. These regulations were always intended to reduce access to abortion, and at a time when abortion is outlawed and criminalized in states around the country, it is time to remove the hurdles of access to care in the commonwealth."

"Abortion restrictions have been passed into law under the false banner of patient safety. This bill will remove from the law medically unnecessary barriers to care and is an important step to ensure abortion access in Pennsylvania," said Women's Law Project Co-Executive Director Sue Frietsche.

You can view the press conference from its entirety here: (71) Press Conference: Removing Unnecessary Obstacles to Safe Abortion Access - YouTube