Agenda for Women’s Health
For far too long, the agenda of the Pennsylvania legislature has been to restrict and reduce women’s access to reproductive healthcare under the guise of promoting “women’s health.” It is time that they focus on policies that truly promote healthy women and families and put an end to the health inequities women face. Pennsylvanians want their leaders to stand up for sensible laws that improve the lives of women. Working alongside the Women’s Health Caucus of the PA legislature, a group of advocates is proud to promote the Agenda for Women’s Health, which seeks to address the comprehensive health problems women face through personal safety issues, economic security, and access to all health care.
To find out more about the Agenda for Women’s Health, please visit PA4WomensHealth.org.
Access to Birth Control
All people deserve access to preventive family planning services that can help them plan when and whether to have children and make responsible decisions about their health, their lives, and their futures. Access to birth control improves the health of women and their families. The nonpartisan Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommended that birth control be covered as women’s preventive care because it is fundamental to improving not only women’s health, but the health of their families as well. Medical research has demonstrated this fact for decades. Improved access to birth control is directly linked to declines in maternal and infant mortality.
Despite the fact that 99 percent of women between the ages of 15 and 44 who are sexually active have used birth control at some point, and that a majority of Americans (70 percent) believe insurance companies should cover the full cost of birth control, just as they do for other preventive services, we have seen recent attempts to chip away at this crucial benefit, including most recently when Hobby Lobby – a for profit craft company – won the right to not provide birth control to its employees on the basis of religious beliefs.
To find out more about this case and what it could mean for you, please visit Planned Parenthood Action Fund.
The Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare)
The Affordable Care Act is arguably the single biggest advancement for women’s health in a generation. It makes it easier for women with insurance to get access to basic preventive care with no additional co-pay—including lifesaving breast cancer screenings and immunizations—and it helps uninsured women (and men!) get access to affordable health insurance that covers quality services.
From no longer being able to discriminate against people based on pre-existing conditions to allowing young people to stay on their parents’ insurance until the age of 26, the Affordable Care Act is working for women and their families.
Under the Affordable Care Act, states were able to expand insurance options to people in two main ways – through private insurance Exchanges and through Medicaid Expansion. Because then-Governor Corbett chose not to create our own Exchange, here in Pennsylvania, our Health Insurance Exchange – also known as a Marketplace – is run by the federal government. It can be accessed at www.Healthcare.gov.
Thankfully, Governor Tom Wolf made expanding Medicaid a priority when he took office in 2015. Now, individuals up to 135% of the poverty level can sign up for Medicaid insurance.
Access to Abortion
Planned Parenthood believes every woman should have access to the full range of reproductive health care services, including access to safe and legal abortion.
Our primary goal is prevention — reducing the number of unintended pregnancies. While teen pregnancy rates continue to decline, the number of repeat teen birth rates remains high and we still have a lot of work to do. That’s why it is important that every woman have access to affordable birth control, but at the same time, decisions about whether to choose adoption, end a pregnancy, or raise a child must be left to a woman, her family, and her faith, with the counsel of her doctor or health care provider — not to politicians.
The Abortion Control Act of 1989 was spearheaded and signed into law by Governor Bob Casey (whose son is now our US Senator, Bob Casey, Jr.) and five of its provisions were immediately challenged in court by Planned Parenthood Southeastern Pennsylvania. This landmark case came to be known as Planned Parenthood v. Casey. In the US Supreme Court, the majority decision upheld Roe v. Wade but also four of the five restrictions; striking down only the spousal notification clause of the law but upholding informed consent of the patient, parental consent for minors, the 24-hour waiting period, and some aspects of the reporting requirements for health care providers. Planned Parenthood v. Casey as well as Pennsylvania’s Abortion Control Act set the trend for abortion legislation across the United States.
Please visit our Legislation page to find out about recently passed and pending attack son access to abortion.
For more information about Access to Abortion, you can also visit Planned Parenthood Action Fund.
Emergency Contraception (EC) is a safe and effective means of preventing pregnancy after unprotected intercourse. EC — also known as “Plan B” or “the morning after pill” — contains a higher dosage of the same hormones found in regular birth control. Emergency contraception is NOT the same medication as RU-486 (“the abortion pill”).
EC can be 95% effective in preventing pregnancy, including from rape, if taken within 24 hours. A delay of even 12 hours can increase the odds of pregnancy by almost 50%. EC is approved by the FDA for over-the-counter sales and is available at most pharmacies to women over the age of 17 with a valid photo ID when a pharmacist is on duty.
Currently Pennsylvania has no law on the books outlining standard emergency medical treatment for victims of sexual assault. In 2007, an attempt to require EC in hospital emergency rooms was thwarted by the PA Catholic Conference. As a result, care varies widely between hospitals; some providing comprehensive care which includes access to emergency contraception, and others refusing to provide access to the medication even if it’s requested.
For more information on Emergency Contraception, please visit the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
Comprehensive Sex Education in Pennsylvania
Planned Parenthood and voters agree that young people want and need comprehensive sex education; sex education that includes information about abstinence, as well as information about healthy relationships, contraception, and the prevention of sexually transmitted infections. Real sex education works. It has been shown to delay intercourse, decrease the number of sexual partners, and increase use of contraception. Not surprisingly, the vast majority of the public agrees with a comprehensive, practical approach to sex education which extends across political parties and religious groups.
For more than two decades, federal funding has been directed to abstinence-only programs. We all want teens to be safe and make responsible decisions about life and encourage them to talk to their parents. We can’t be with them all the time, but we can make sure that they have the education and information they need to make healthy and smart decisions. Unfortunately, abstinence-only programs deny teens the information they need to prevent unintended pregnancy and STDs. Many teens who have participated in abstinence-only programs are less likely to use contraception or get tested for STDs.
For more information on Sex Education, including PREP and the “Get Yourself Tested” campaign, please visit the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
Planned Parenthood believes firmly in absolute equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered people everywhere. Here in Pennsylvania, it is an outrage that LGBT individuals can be discriminated against in the workplace, at businesses, by landlords and healthcare providers. We are staunch supporters of the Pennsylvania Non-Discrimination Act HB300.
Things are getting better in Pennsylvania, though. On May 20, 2014, we were thrilled when Pennsylvania Judge John Jones declared the same-sex marriage ban in Pennsylvania to be unconstitutional. The freedom to marry and the protections that come with it are now available to all Pennsylvanians.
To find out more about LGBT issues and advocacy in Pennsylvania, please visit Equality Pennsylvania.
To find out more about sexual orientation and gender, please visit the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.