State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, as he promised, introduced a bill today on women's health. HB 2405 is available on the state website. Here is a list of the bill's sponsors:
METCALFE, RAPP, AUMENT, BARRAR, BEAR, BLOOM, BOYD, BROOKS, CAUSER, COX, CREIGHTON, CUTLER, DENLINGER, DUNBAR, ELLIS, FLECK, GILLEN, HARRIS, HESS, HICKERNELL, HUTCHINSON, KAUFFMAN, KNOWLES, KRIEGER, MALONEY, METZGAR, MOUL, REESE, ROAE, ROCK, SACCONE, SONNEY, STERN, SWANGER AND TALLMAN
It is a short bill, 4 pages long. Here is one of the key definitions in the bill:
"Abortion." The use of any means to terminate the clinically diagnosable pregnancy of a woman with knowledge that the termination by those means will cause, with reasonable likelihood, the death of the unborn child. The term does not include birth control devices, oral contraceptives used to inhibit or prevent ovulation, conception or the implantation of a fertilized ovum in the uterus or the use of any means to increase the probability of a live birth, to preserve the life or health of the child after a live birth, to terminate an ectopic pregnancy or to remove a dead fetus.
I noted a couple of things. First it refers to the pregnancy of a woman. It does not cover the disposal of fertilized embryos intended, but not used for, in vitro fertilization. Second, it says this does not refer to actions taken to preserve the life or health of the child after a live birth. There is no age restriction on that. Suppose that child grows up to be a woman whose health is compromised by a pregnancy. Whose life takes precedence?
The bulk of the bill concerns funding of women's health providers. Media outlets and organizations whose mission involves women's health say the purpose of this bill is to defund Planned Parenthood. Personally I'm a big fan of Planned Parenthood. Here is some information on Planned Parenthood's impact on Pennsylvania:
FACT: In 2011, Planned Parenthood provided over 44,000 breast wellness exams, 200,000 STD tests, and 40,000 cervical cancer screenings - detecting over 5,000 abnormal pap tests which if untreated can lead to cancer.
FACT: The “Whole Woman’s Health Funding Priorities Act” is expected to eliminate Planned Parenthood from funding to provide affordable birth control, lifesaving cancer screenings, and STI testing and treatment for low income patients through Department of Health programs.FACT: Each year, Planned Parenthood’s 42 nonprofit health centers in Pennsylvania care for more than 120,000 men and women.FACT: There is overwhelming public support for state funding for Planned Parenthood. A February Susquehanna Polling and Research survey shows that 65 percent of Pennsylvania voters and a majority from every region of the state and of every political party support state funding for Planned Parenthood’s preventive services.
Sari Stevens, executive director of Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Advocates issued this statement:
“In these difficult economic times, it’s disappointing some politicians in Harrisburg would rather block women’s access to cancer screenings, birth control, and annual exams than address the real needs of the Commonwealth. Women and families need high quality, affordable health care, not more political meddling. "Planned Parenthood won't let politics interfere with the health care that one in five women in America relies on at some point in her life. Planned Parenthood health centers are open in Pennsylvania today, and they’ll be open tomorrow. Women are counting on us to protect their cancer screenings, birth control and basic, preventive care – and we will fight for them."
I think this is bad legislation and encourage the state house to vote against it.