Pennsylvania House Passes Bill to Shield Abortion Seekers from Other States’ Prosecutions

Harrisburg, PennsylvaniaCredit: Commonwealth Media Services

PENNSYLVANIA — The Pennsylvania House of Representatives has passed House Bill 1786, legislation designed to protect individuals seeking abortion services in the state from legal repercussions imposed by other states. The bill, sponsored by state Reps. Mary Jo Daley (D-Montgomery) and Melissa Shusterman (D-Chester), cleared the state House on Wednesday, November 15, 2023, with a vote of 117-86.

This piece of legislation amends Title 42 (Judiciary and Judicial Procedure) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes. It prohibits Pennsylvania courts from cooperating with out-of-state civil and criminal cases involving reproductive healthcare services. Moreover, it prevents officials from other states from arresting individuals in Pennsylvania for abortion-related crimes.

Rep. Daley, co-chair of the bicameral Women’s Health Caucus, emphasized that the move to protect those seeking reproductive healthcare services in Pennsylvania from penalties imposed by their home states was initiated by an executive order from former Gov. Tom Wolf. However, this legislation would enshrine these protections in the state law.

Several states are contemplating laws to make obtaining an abortion an offense punishable by law. Against this backdrop, Daley stated, “Access to safe and legal abortion is a serious issue for millions of Americans. In Pennsylvania, it remains safe and legal. But other states have worked furiously to enact extreme abortion bans and restrict the ability for women to access essential healthcare.”

Rep. Shusterman echoed Daley’s sentiments, stating, “Women in our country are afraid. Since the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization, an alarming number of states have enacted total or near-total bans on abortion. While we cannot prevent other states from criminalizing abortion, what we can do is protect individuals seeking and providing reproductive healthcare services here in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.”

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The legislation now moves to the Senate for consideration. This move by the Pennsylvania House sends a clear message about its stance on reproductive rights, even as debates on access to abortion services continue to intensify across the United States.

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