Saturday, February 5, 2011

Action Alert: Anti-Abortion Bill May Be Voted on in PA Senate on Monday, February 7

On January 19, 2011, Pennsylvania State Senator Don White (R-11) introduced Senate Bill 3 with 25 cosponsors. The bill would ban private insurance plans sold in the Pennsylvania health insurance exchange, created under health care reform and will begin operating by 2014, from covering even medically necessary abortion services. On January 25, 2011, the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee passed SB 3.

It now appears that the full Senate will be voting on this bill on Monday, February 7.  Please take a moment and call or email you State Senator.  Contact information for each Senator can be found here.  Just fill in the information.  When the second page pops up, click on the name of your Senator.  This will take you to his/her contact page where you can find phone numbers and either an email address or a link to the Senator's web mail form.

Tell your Senator to urge postponement of consideration. Senators need to know there is a pro-choice majority in PA and that a vote for passage of this bill is both unnecessary and dangerous for women!! 

Additional background and talking points are listed below.

Background on SB 3
Senate Bill 3 will deny insurance plans participating in the insurance exchange from covering abortion services except in the cases where the pregnancy was caused by rape or incest, or where the life of the woman is in danger. These exceptions to receive abortion coverage are very narrow.

• Victims of rape must personally report the incident to the police and must identify the assailant, if known. Victims of incest must personally report the incident to law enforcement and identify the offender.

• There is no exception made for catastrophic health situations such as paralysis, organ failure and infertility.
Note that this legislation is not necessary. The question of whether abortion will be covered in federally subsidized insurance exchanges has already been settled. In response to concerns raised by US Senator Ben Nelson, a staunch opponent of abortion, women who want to use their own money to purchase a health insurance plan that covers abortion services must send a separate payment so the funding for abortion coverage is completely separate and paid entirely by the individual.

What are the consequences of this bill if it becomes law?
• The passage of SB 3 will continue to marginalize abortion service from the regulation and oversight of the medical and insurance industry. Pennsylvania law should support the provision of safe, legal abortion and not stigmatize the procedure and push it into the hands of dangerous practitioners who threaten and endanger women’s lives and health.

• An estimated 80% of private insurance plans currently cover abortion services. If legislation banning abortion coverage in the state insurance exchange passes, it will dramatically change the status quo for abortion services in Pennsylvania by taking coverage away from thousands of women who may enroll in the state insurance exchange
Stories from Pennsylvania Women

These are some real-life stories of how women would be negatively affected if this ban becomes law (FYI, these stories that were provided by the Women’s Medical Fund to the Pennsylvanians for Choice Coalition). Under a ban like Senate Bill 3, these women would not be able to receive abortion services if participating in the Pennsylvania health insurance exchange.

H.D. is a young woman with two children. She makes $1,300 per month as a home health aide. Because the person whom she cares for has been hospitalized, she has had no income for a month. She was behind in her rent and feared eviction.

At age 2, Sarah underwent chemotherapy and surgery for bladder cancer. Now an adult woman with a wanted pregnancy, Sarah found out her bladder has a new lesion on it that can’t be treated while she is pregnant. She is also at risk for kidney conditions that pregnancy can worsen. She and her physicians reluctantly decided that she must terminate her pregnancy to save her health.

Q.M. is 30 years old and has two young children. She supports her family with welfare payments of $400 per month. Her fiancé just suffered a stroke and will need to be in rehab for many months. She contacted us from his bedside at the hospital. With sadness, Q.M. decided that this was not the right time to take on the responsibility of parenting another child.

G.L. is a sophomore at a suburban college living at home with her alcoholic and abusive mother and her little brother. Although her mother helps with college tuition, G.L. must cover her other expenses with savings from her summer job. She feared her mother would become violent if she turned to her for help with an abortion.

L.B. is a 30-year-old woman with a school-aged daughter. A few months ago, she was laid off from her job at a medical office. Since then, unable to find another job, she enrolled in SNAP (food stamps) and is spending down her savings account to pay her rent and other living expenses. L.B. had been using a hormonal contraceptive, so she was surprised to find herself pregnant.

R.B. is a 27-year-old woman who works as a community organizer. She suffered date rape at a party; someone slipped drugs into her drink and then assaulted her.
Once again, here's the link to your Senator's office.  Please act today! Thank you!

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