City Council: Committee Advances Abortion Protection Legislation

The City Council committee on Public Health and Human Services met Thursday, November 10th, 2022, to hear testimony on three pieces of legislation aimed at protecting abortion access in Philadelphia.

The three bills establish privacy protections for information related to reproductive health care, offer protections against discrimination, and establish legal protection for those seeking, providing, or assisting others in obtaining reproductive services.

Councilmember Helen Gym lauded the legislation as a collection of bills that will put “Philadelphia at the forefront of abortion defense.”

“We are a city which has consistently stood up for the lives of Black, Brown, and immigrant women, girls, trans, and pregnant people,” Gym said. “We know that health care access is not equal, and we must make sure that those at most risk of denial of care are not at risk of the criminalization of their bodies.”

Testifying at the hearing was Health Commissioner Cheryl Bettigole, who said access to reproductive health services, including the right to safe abortions, improves health outcomes and supports economic mobility and success.

“Restricting access to abortion services would place the government squarely between a patient and their health care provider by, denying individuals privacy and autonomy other their own bodies and knowledge to make informed healthcare decisions,” Bettigole said.

Bettigole also testified as to the numerous issues that can arise when abortion access is limited or outright restricted.

“Extensive research indicates policies that prohibit or restrict access to abortion expose pregnant individuals to increased psychological distress and health risks caused from seeking subordinate services outside the health care system,” Bettigole said.

The three bills were recommended favorably by the committee and will be heard for first reading at the next session of council.

An Ordinance adding a new Chapter 6 1400 to The Philadelphia Code, entitled “Privacy of Certain Health Information,” to establish privacy protections for information related to reproductive healthcare, all under certain terms and conditions. Click here for more information.

An Ordinance amending Chapter 9 1100 of The Philadelphia Code, entitled “Fair Practices Ordinance: Protections Against Unlawful Discrimination,” to protect against discrimination related to reproductive health, modify and harmonize related provisions of the Chapter, and make other related or technical changes, all under certain terms and conditions. Click here for more information.

An Ordinance amending Title 6 of The Philadelphia Code, entitled “Health Code,” to establish legal protections related to entities or individuals seeking, providing, or assisting others to obtain reproductive services, all under certain terms and conditions. Click here for more information.

Resolution No. 220858 was held.

Resolution authorizing the Committee on Public Health and Human Services to hold hearings regarding expanding Philadelphia’s mobile crisis response capacity to develop strategies and best practices for non-lethal de-escalation, crisis intervention, and restraint of individuals experiencing mental or emotional distress. Click here for more information.

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