Supreme Court decision in Texas abortion case could have ripple effects in Pa.

    Demonstrators gather while the U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments in a Texas abortion case which could have a ripple effect in Pennsylvania. (Photo via Women's Law Project)

    Demonstrators gather while the U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments in a Texas abortion case which could have a ripple effect in Pennsylvania. (Photo via Women's Law Project)

    The U.S. Supreme Court is hearing from attorneys in a Texas case that opponents say could shutter abortion clinics in that state. Some of the rules — under dispute in Texas — were adopted in Pennsylvania years ago.

    Protesters of all stripe gathered on the steps outside the Supreme Court in Washington Wednesday. Amanda Kifferly called in to describe the scene.

    “We’re seeing signs here that say, ‘Trust women.’ I see signs that say, ‘Politicians are not doctors,'” Kifferly said. “We’re seeing a lot of strong voices united in making sure that clinics do not close but continue to be open for the women who need them.”

    Kifferly, the director of patient advocacy at the Philadelphia Women’s Center, said her clinic cares for women from as far away State College and Ohio because state rules across the country have made abortion access difficult.

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    Sue Frietsche, senior staff attorney with the Women’s Law Project, said abortion was safe in the commonwealth before the 2011 rules were added — and the required facility changes were unnecessary.

    “I know that women are safe every day, because I’m a proud abortion provider. My experience comes from 12 years of working inside of an abortion clinic. And I know how safe this procedure is,” Kifferly said.

    “We know that the real effect of the Texas law — and the purpose of that law is to make it harder, and sometimes impossible, for women to get high-quality care in a timely manner,” Frietsche said.

    Pennsylvania’s law — enacted after authorities shut down Kermit Gosnell’s West Philadelphia clinic — demands that abortion providers meet the same facility standards as outpatient surgery centers. That proved costly for clinics, and a few shut down.

    Unlike Texas, Pennsylvania did not require abortion providers to obtain admitting privileges at a local hospital.

    Maria Gallagher, legislative director for the Pennsylvania Pro-life Federation, said the commonwealth simply adopted basic health precautions.

    “If a restaurant weren’t meeting basic health and safety standards, you would not want that establishment to remain open,” she said. “Women should not be treated as second-class citizens when they walk into an abortion center.”

    “It’s too soon to say how a Supreme Court ruling might affect Pennsylvania, but we remain hopeful that the Texas law will be upheld and that commonsense regulations in Pennsylvania will remain in place,” Gallagher said.

    The Supreme Court will likely rule on the Texas case this summer.

    In Delaware, opponents of abortion rights hope the Texas law prevails.

    “It may exert some subtle pressures in states that don’t have those laws, but it’s very hard to be optimistic in Delaware,” said Moira Sheridan, secretary of Delaware Right to Life. “We are a very liberal state.”

    Three centers offer surgical abortions Delaware — two in Wilmington and one in Dover.

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