Philadelphia City Council committee approves what they call ‘cutting edge’ abortion bill

The bill is designed to protect the right to abortion and guard against discrimination based on pregnancy, among other things.

A closeup of City Hall

A closeup of City Hall in Philadelphia. (Mark Henninger/Imagic Digital)

The right to a safe, legal abortion in Philadelphia was the topic of a meeting on a series of bills and a resolution in City Council. 

The three-bill package is designed to defend abortion rights and protect patients who seek reproductive heath treatment in the city.  

Councilmember Helen Gym said the goal is to make sure politicians don’t try to interrupt Philadelphian’s right to choose. “Here’s our message to governors like Greg Abbott in Texas and anyone else who seeks to criminalize women and believes they can control our city: ‘Not on our watch.’ This is our city, our residents, and we will do everything within our powers to protect them.”

Part of the package would prevent city healthcare providers from being sued.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

“Vigilante laws criminalizing reproductive health care by permitting parties outside of the city to sue for the receipt or provision of legal reproductive health care in the city of Philadelphia infringes on the rights of patients, providers and helpers,” said Councilmember Jamie Gautier, who said she had an abortion in her teens. “As the elected representatives of this city, we cannot stand idly by and let residents in other states control what goes on here in Philly.”

Tara Murtha of the Women’s Law Project said women are being targeted in the move to deny abortion rights while also discriminating against those who are pregnant.

“Unfortunately, the sexist ideology that seeks to punish us for our reproductive choices extends into employment, typically by way of pregnancy discrimination, a persistent problem in Pennsylvania,” Murtha said. “It’s illuminating that the same state lawmakers attempting to force us to carry pregnancies against our will are simultaneously enabling our employers to fire us over it by refusing to pass a bill to protect pregnant workers.”

Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Cheryl Bettigole said the call to restrict abortions if approved in Harrisburg would have severe repercussions. 

“Black Philadelphians are four times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white Philadelphians,” Bettigole said. “This disparity will only be exacerbated by abortion restrictions, which could limit the ability of a young teen or a woman with complex medical conditions to make her own medical decisions together with her doctor.”

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

The bills will now go to the full council for approval.

Get the WHYY app!

WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal