by Dayle Steinberg, President & CEO of Planned Parenthood S.E. Penna.
Jan. 22nd marked the 40th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision, Roe v. Wade. This ruling established women have a fundamental constitutional right to make their own decisions about their pregnancies without government interference.
Forty years later, a clear majority of Americans continue to support access to safe, legal abortion, but we’ve seen a shift in how people identify with commonly associated labels. The terms “pro-choice” and “pro-life” don’t realistically reflect the way people talk and feel about abortion. The number of Americans who want abortion to remain safe, legal and accessible, interestingly, is higher than those who call themselves pro-choice. Reproductive-health decisions are private and personal, and we do a disservice to the complexity of the issue by boxing people’s stances into categories.
Despite the complex and private nature of the issue, as we commemorate the anniversary, lawmakers across the country remain committed to denying women their rights, by restricting access to abortion, and even the best prevention for abortion — birth control.
Elected officials in Pennsylvania are hard at work continuing their relentless, politically-motivated attacks on women’s health. In December 2011, Gov. Tom Corbett signed a law that placed unnecessary regulations on abortion providers under the guise of enhancing patient safety. As a result, abortion clinics that already provided high-quality, safe services undertook the burdensome task of making unnecessary and very costly renovations that had nothing to do with patient safety.
Our legislators continue to waste time and taxpayer money by introducing bills that ban private insurance coverage for abortion services in the new health insurance exchange. The Affordable Care Act already restricts insurance coverage for abortion services by requiring a woman to make a separate payment for that additional coverage. Alarmingly, these proposals in Pennsylvania go another step further by not allowing an exception for when a woman’s physical health is in jeopardy.
Every day, Planned Parenthood works to protect access to health care. We tirelessly advocate for laws that promote healthy behavior and reduce the number of unintended pregnancies. As the nation’s leading women’s health-care provider, we know firsthand why it’s so critical that women have access to a comprehensive range of reproductive-health services. Planned Parenthood centers across the country provide professional, non-judgmental care that helps women prevent an estimated 486,000 unintended pregnancies and 204,000 abortions every year.
In Southeastern Pennsylvania, Planned Parenthood provides 50,000 women, men and teens each year with family planning and reproductive health services in 13 health centers in Philadelphia, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery Cos. We provide affordable, high-quality health care including annual gynecological exams, cancer screenings, STI/HIV testing and treatment including rapid HIV testing, breast health services, birth control, emergency contraception, pregnancy testing, mid-life services for women and abortion services. And, for years to come, we will remain steadfast in our commitment to ensure that women have access to that care, no matter what.