Pennsylvania Democrats Celebrate Abortion Provider Appreciation Day

The Pennsylvania Women’s Health Caucus took time Thursday to acknowledge Abortion Provider Appreciation Day, a national movement.

State Sens. Judy Schwank and Amanda Cappelletti, along with Rep. Morgan Cephas and Rep. Mary Jo Daley, all Democrats, released a joint statement thanking abortion providers for their services.

“We would like to take the opportunity to thank abortion providers across Pennsylvania as they continue to provide vital healthcare services in the face of these unprecedented attacks on the right to choose, and under the additional pressures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” the statement read. “While we are facing attacks on abortion access at every level, and in every shape and form anti-abortion legislators can imagine, it is crucial that we uplift abortion providers who are persevering through this political climate to provide comprehensive reproductive healthcare for their patients. Join us in thanking abortion providers across the nation today!”

The 52-member Democratic Women’s Health Caucus of the Pennsylvania legislature has a strong pro-abortion stance.

Abortion Provider Appreciation Day, March 10, was launched in 2017 by the Abortion Care Network, which has social media memes on its website with slogans such as, “To provide abortion care is to believe in the future.”

Other slogans, printed on colorful graphics mimicking tarot cards, encourage abortion workers by saying their work provides magic, love, strength, justice, hope, and liberation.

“It is a sad day when people celebrate abortion, which is the taking of an innocent, unrepeatable life, and leave the woman to grieve the child,” Maria Gallagher, legislative director of the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation, told The Epoch Times. “Pregnant women deserve compassion and care, not a cold-hearted offer to abort their offspring. Safeguarding women’s health means offering them life-affirming options which protect both their health and the lives of their babies.”

Abortions in the state were up by 3.5 percent in 2020 compared to the previous year. The Pennsylvania Department of Health reported 32,123 abortions in 2020, the most recent year available. It is 1,105 more than 2019.

The increase coincides with the height of the COVID-19 lockdowns that began in 2020. That year, as part of his COVID-19 response, Gov. Tom Wolf issued a moratorium on elective surgeries and other medical procedures, but abortion clinics were allowed to remain open.

Pennsylvania’s Abortion Battle

Abortion access and funding are the subject of a current lawsuit and upcoming legislation in Pennsylvania.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court will decide the case of Allegheny Reproductive Health Center and Planned Parenthood vs. Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, in which abortion providers are suing the state to use tax dollars for abortion services.

Unlike neighboring New York and New Jersey, Pennsylvania bans the use of Medicaid for elective abortions. Medicaid is allowed to be used in Pennsylvania for non-elective abortions and elective abortions involving rape or incest.

The ban is a violation of the Pennsylvania Constitution, the lawsuit states, and it is costing providers too much money because many who use their services are eligible for medical assistance.

Providers frequently perform abortions at a financial loss and must invest their own time and resources to find and secure private funding to help low-income women pay for their abortions, and this results in a loss of time and productivity for staff, court papers say.

“As a result of the Pennsylvania coverage ban, there are Pennsylvania women who are forced to carry their pregnancies to term against their will,” the lawsuit states.

The case also asks the court to declare abortion a fundamental right under the Pennsylvania Constitution.

It has the potential to change many current state abortion laws, Gallagher said.

“We would lose the Pennsylvania Abortion Control Act, which would mean no more ban on late-term abortion, no more informed consent for abortion, no more parental consent for abortion, no more 24-hour waiting period for abortion,” she said. “We also lose our Abortion Center Regulation Law, which would mean hair and nail salons would have greater scrutiny in Pennsylvania than abortion facilities, because they wouldn’t be subject to state inspections.”

In response to the lawsuit, the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation has advocated for a state constitutional amendment, Senate Bill 956, with Republican Sen. Judy Ward as the prime sponsor.

“What the abortion industry is asking the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to do is to bypass both the legislative process and the constitutional amendment process and to manufacture out of thin air a right to elective abortion and taxpayer funding of elective abortion, presumably during all nine months of pregnancy,” Ward wrote in a memo about the amendment.

“To prevent Pennsylvania’s abortion laws from being struck down, I am proposing a simple amendment to the Pennsylvania Constitution clarifying that there is no right to an abortion or abortion funding within Pennsylvania’s constitution,” Ward said. “This amendment is designed to maintain our laws regulating abortion and preventing the taxpayer funding of elective abortion.”

The amendment was passed out of the Senate Health and Human services committee and awaits a floor vote. A constitutional amendment in Pennsylvania requires passage in two consecutive legislative sessions. Then it must go on a statewide ballot to be decided by voters.

Many women who have had abortions live with long-term regret that is difficult to discuss, pro-life advocates have said. Across the nation, pregnancy centers have added services for these women.

“There are a number of pregnancy centers throughout Pennsylvania which offer hope and healing to women who have suffered the loss of a child to abortion. We are also very fortunate in Pennsylvania that we have Rachel’s Vineyard which offers healing retreats to women who have had an abortion and who now regret the decision. It’s very important that we show compassion and understanding to these women who may, in fact have been forced into the decision to have an abortion,” said Gallagher.