With Mark Critz’s pro-life stance, and the yea votes by State Representative Brandon Neuman and State Senator Michael Stack of SB 732, legislation that closed five women’s clinic since its enactment in 2011, there are only two truly pro-choice candidates left in the lieutenant governor’s race: Mark Smith and Brad Koplinski.
SB 732 is what reproductive choice advocates and medical professionals call a TRAP law, or “targeted regulations of abortion providers”. This legislation saw much more bipartisan support than other legislation in the past because lobbyists capitalized on the national press coverage in the wake of the Kermit Gosnell grand jury report. This was a “low information” legislative discussion; had legislators actually visited women’s health clinics, studied the direct causes for victims to seek Gosnell’s help in the first place, or just listened to the long line of medical professionals who testified that this was a terrible idea that would not help anyone, this law probably would not have passed. At the very least, it would have been forced to pass without the support of democrats who claim overall to be pro-choice.
One victim who went to Gosnell’s house of horrors went there because of the harassment she endured outside of a clinic in Center City, because of Pennsylvania’s lax buffer zone laws. Strengthening protections for patients entering clinics would have been a sensible first step toward reducing the demand of victims for monsters like Kermit Gosnell. Another victim sough Gosnell’s help because she was in her second term of her pregnancy, and therefore, was not afforded the legal right to an abortion, this far along.
Nonsensical regulations on upstanding clinics without any connection to the victims does not serve their memories or quell their fears about future incidences; it only serves to trivialize what they went through and use it to score political points with conservative supporters and lobbyists.
Former Congressman Critz’s pro-life stance has been consistent, and he was not a state legislator who took part in passing this law. However, Senator Stack and Representative Neuman both voted to enact this law, and should therefore be honest with voters and take responsibility for the ramifications that have been subjected on female Pennsylvanians. Senator Stack, in particular, champions his support of women’s rights right on his campaign website, stating “Attacks on women’s health are extreme, harmful, and they happen all too frequently in our legislature. I am pro-choice and have fought against funding cuts to Planned Parenthood, and mandates for trans-vaginal ultrasounds for women considering abortions.”
That is really awesome, Senator Stack, but what if you are a woman from Central Pennsylvania, who now has no access to reproductive care, thanks to this law?
We know from recent reports that this is not just a talking point of the “reproductive lobby”, as some conservative blogs have stated in response to my discussion of this law. A young woman in Central Pennsylvania, who had every right under the law to terminate her pregnancy, was put in harm’s way because thanks to this law, there were no clinics anywhere near her. Her mother, a nurse, saw no choice but to order the abortion pill online for her daughter, and weeks later, she was rushed to the emergency room due to an incomplete abortion.
Aren’t these the sorts of safety issues that legislators want to prevent, not cause? An incomplete abortion would never happen at any legally standing health clinic, because clinicians and staff have access to medical equipment. They certainly wouldn’t ever let a young woman go weeks with this condition, without any knowledge of the medical complication.
This law was a huge mistake, and it’s time for legislators who helped to get it passed to own up to that.