Vicky was 26 when she had an abortion. She was in an abusive relationship at the time and terrified if she went through with the pregnancy there would be no way out, no way to protect herself and her baby from their father. .
“I was torn and scared when I had to make that choice, but I have no regrets. I wasn’t ready to be a mom and I didn’t want to worry about him hurting our child,” said Vicky, who declined to give her last name for fear of reprisal.
Friday’s U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade and the constitutional right to abortion left her reeling, thinking about what might have happened if she hadn’t been given the opportunity to interrupt. her pregnancy and what it means now for others like her.
“If I had had the baby, what could have happened? Would I ever leave? she said Friday, hours after the decision was announced. “I’m so scared for young women who are in abusive relationships and get pregnant and now they’re stuck. It’s heartbreaking.
Abortions remain legal in Pennsylvania, through Pennsylvania’s 24th week. But that could change with the next election, and groups on both sides pledged on Friday to continue the fight.
With the court’s decision, Pennsylvania will become an even more important “access point” for abortion care and local centers will have to serve growing numbers of women from other states, said Melissa Reed, president and CEO of the leadership of Planned Parenthood Keystone, which is based in Warminster.
“We are expanding our Abortion Assistance Fund to ensure patients can access care regardless of their ability to pay,” Reed said. own bodies and build their own future, no matter where they come from.
Based in Warminster, Planned Parenthood Keystone works with chapters in Harrisburg and Philadelphia to provide reproductive health services to more than 22,000 women annually, Reed said. Each year, the organization performs about 7,500 medically or surgically induced abortions, Reed estimated.
Reed called the court’s decision “catastrophic,” especially for blacks, Latinos and low-income Americans. “This decision means that 36 million people could lose access to abortion care,” Reed estimated. “We know that the poor, black people and other historically marginalized people will be hit the hardest, because we’ve seen this happen before in states like Texas.”
Representatives from the Pro-Life Union of Greater Philadelphia said the decision is a challenge for all Americans to love and support mothers during pregnancy.
“In many ways, the fight for Pennsylvania’s unborn children is just beginning,” said Tom Stevens, president and CEO of the pro-life union. “Now we will work to ensure the legal protection of all our citizens from the moment of conception, and we will redouble our efforts to help every mother who needs help during and after her pregnancy.”
Abortion in Pennsylvania:The Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. What happens next in Pennsylvania?
Learn more about the court’s decision:Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, eliminating the constitutional right to abortion
Live PA coverage:Roe v. Wade overturned in landmark Supreme Court decision
Archbishop of Philadelphia Nelson Perez released the following statement on CatholicPhilly minutes after the announcement:
“I am grateful to the Justices of the United States Supreme Court for their willingness to hear Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, and for their opinion, which affirms the profound value inherent in all human life.
“As Catholics, we believe that life is God’s most precious gift and that we share the responsibility of maintaining its beauty and sanctity from conception to natural death. unborn child, this responsibility extends to caring for the hungry, the poor, the sick, the immigrants, the elderly, the oppressed and all our brothers and sisters who are marginalized. In short, being truly pro-life means recognizing the presence of God in everyone and care for them accordingly.”
Maggie Groff, who tracks reproductive health issues for the Bucks County Women’s Advocacy Coalition, said the decision opens the door to other privacy issues where Roe was cited involving women’s health, such as birth control, as well as gay rights, same-sex marriage and medicine. privacy.
“There’s so much to see about how this is going to play out.”
One thing Groff is convinced of is that the ability to access abortion will be very different from what it was before the original 1973 ruling.
Internet and social networks did not exist like today. Abortion does not carry the same social stigma as before Roe Vs. Wade, when access to providers was largely done in secret.
“There are already organizations that are clearly working and making it clear that we’ll help you get an abortion in another state (where it’s legal),” Groff said.
In the 14 states with trigger laws where abortion is immediately banned by Friday’s ruling, Groff thinks the next steps anti-choice lawmakers will attempt are to restrict the ability of women seeking abortions to leave. the state.
“I think states will try to find ways to restrict that,” she said. “It’s going to be chaos. This patchwork of laws that will differ from state to state. It’s frightening.”
She added that the Supreme Court ruling will not eliminate access to abortion, but will make it more difficult, especially for minors, single mothers, the poor and other marginalized communities.
“Abortion has always been around and women have always sought abortion services when they needed or wanted them, and I don’t think that’s going to change,” she said.
Abortions down in Pennsylvania
The number of abortions is down in Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania Department of Health reported 31,018 abortions in 2019, the latest data available. That was down from 37,284 reported abortions in 2009. In Bucks County, 778 procedures took place in 2019, according to the state.
Figures provided by the health department show that abortions are most common among women between the ages of 20 and 29, who accounted for 57% of abortion procedures in 2019. Less than 8% of abortions were among young women aged 19 and under.
Almost all abortions―90%―occur during the first trimester of pregnancy. The state reported no abortions beyond 24 weeks gestation in 2019.
Meanwhile, public attitudes about abortion have changed little over the past 20 years.
Annual telephone interviews conducted by the Gallup organization asked, “Do you think abortions should be legal in all circumstances, legal only in certain circumstances, or illegal in all circumstances?”
Responses have remained relatively constant through two decades of polls.
Half of those surveyed said they thought abortion should be legal in certain situations. Thirty percent said abortion should be legal in all situations. Twenty percent would make abortion illegal under any circumstances.
In 1973, Roe v. Wade changed the legal status of abortion by overturning a Texas law that criminalized abortion. However, judges later ruled that states could withhold public funds for abortion programs and establish conditions such as a 24-hour waiting period or parental consent for minors to end an abortion. pregnancy.
Pennsylvania Abortion Politics
Republicans in the General Assembly tried to pass measures banning abortion, but none got past Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf’s desk. However, that could all change in this year’s election, which will decide Pennsylvania’s next governor.
Democrat Josh Shapiro said he believes abortion should be accessible, legal and safe for all women. Republican Doug Mastriano said he believes no woman should be able to terminate a fetus once a heartbeat is detected by a doctor.
Several states have introduced measures to restrict abortion to fetal heart rate detection. At about six weeks, an ultrasound could detect a beating in the muscles of the heart, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit focused on reproductive health.
Some Republicans in Harrisburg want to avoid the governor and put an anti-abortion proposal on the ballot for the 2023 primary election.
In January, state Rep. Donna Oberlander — the Majority Whip — introduced a measure to change the state constitution “providing there is no abortion rights or funding. for an abortion” in Pennsylvania. A similar bill was introduced in April by Republican Senator Judy Ward of Blair County.
Under Pennsylvania law, a patient must speak to a counselor and then wait 24 hours before terminating a pregnancy. Government-funded health plans only cover the cost of abortions in cases of rape or incest. It is illegal to terminate a pregnancy after 24 weeks, except in cases that threaten the life of the mother, under state law.
Democrat Ashley Ehasz, who is challenging Brian Fitzpatrick for the 1st Congressional District seat, said in a statement Friday that it was a “dark day in American history.”
“After decades of right-wing attacks on reproductive health care, this reckless move is a devastating blow to our movement for reproductive justice,” she said. “Millions of people will be forced to make dangerous efforts to obtain a once-safe procedure, which in turn will cost lives.
To all the women, parents, activists and families who fought for safe and legal abortions two generations ago, only to see them lost now – I’m sorry. I’m sorry that the leaders of our country – the country I was willing to fight and die for – let you down.”
Ehasz was scheduled to speak at a rally later Friday. Fitzpatrick could not immediately be reached for comment.