HARRISBURG, Pa. (WTAJ) — The Pennsylvania General Assembly’s Women’s Health Caucus (WHC) is calling on Governor Tom Wolf to sign an executive order protecting health care providers who are offering abortions to out-of-state patients.
This comes as the caucus claims Pennsylvania is now one of five top places where people will travel to for abortion care and said other states have already criminalized or are moving to criminalize abortion. The WHC believes these states are also looking to prevent abortions in states with legal access by bringing criminal charges or other disciplinary actions against health care providers and their patients.
“We want to make it clear as can be that abortion is still legal in Pennsylvania and we will not allow neighboring states to dictate or intimidate providers in the commonwealth,” WHC Co-Chair Senator Judy Schwank said. “It’s unthinkable that a medical professional could be charged with a crime or face jail time for providing an individual with a safe medical procedure. We need to follow the lead of other states and afford protection to Pennsylvania abortion providers who are operating in accordance with state law.”
In a letter to Governor Wolf, the caucus requests actions be taken to offer protection from other states’ laws. This would reportedly include the following:
- Prohibiting executive departments and agencies from assisting another state’s investigations into a person or entity for receiving or delivering reproductive health services that are legal in Pennsylvania.
- Directing the secretary of State to work with the boards of professional licensure, to the extent their independence can be maintained, to protect Pennsylvania providers who deliver reproductive health care services from losing their professional licenses or receiving other professional discipline based on out-of-state charges so long as the services would have been lawful and consistent with standards for good professional practice in Pennsylvania.
- Decline to cooperate with extradition requests from other states pursuing criminal charges against individuals who received, assisted with, or performed legal reproductive health services in Pennsylvania.
The WHC says Governors in Massachusetts, Minnesota and New Mexico have signed similar executive orders to offer protection. The full letter sent to Governor Wolf by the WHC can be read here.