Mandated ultrasounds prior to abortions, workplace gender inequities discussed at Council meeting

Two resolutions discussed at Thursday’s City Council meeting drew attention to the fact that it was, in fact, International Women’s Day.

With a 16-1 vote, Council passed Ninth District Councilwoman Marian Tasco’s resolution urging state representatives to oppose a bill that would mandate ultrasounds for women seeking abortions.

State legislators are considering a controversial bill (HB 1077) similar to that which was signed into law in Virginia on Wednesday.

Rebecca Foley, director of education and advocacy initiatives at Women’s Way, labeled it a “demeaning and damaging bill” in which government is trying to inject itself into the doctor/patient relationship.

“It says that women are incapable of making decisions about their health and well-being,” Foley said. “There is no basis in medicine. It’s a broad overreach of the Pennsylvania state legislature at a time when they should be focusing on the economy and creating jobs.”

Tasco deemed the invasive procedures involved as an “unnecessary intrusion into the doctor’s office” that tinkers with “the bond of trust” between doctors and patients in an attempt to shame women.

City Councilman Brian O’Neill was the lone dissenting vote on Tasco’s bill.

Workplace equity

The second resolution, introduced by Councilwoman At-Large Blondell Reynolds Brown, called for “hearings on the role of women on Executive Boards of Directors throughout Philadelphia.”

In introducing it, the councilwoman cited wage and promotion disparities between men and women.

Noting that she is the mother of a teenage girl, Reynolds Brown also railed against conservative talk-show host Rush Limbaugh’s “rude, crude” statements related to the contraception debate.

“In politics, there is an old adage that ‘if you’re not at the table, then you’re on the menu,'” she said. “Over the past month, we have seen what happens when women are not at the table.

“We see public commentary that amounts to an assault on women’s rights take center stage, when it does not even belong in the theater.”

The yet-scheduled Committee on Commerce and Economic Development hearings will “ask corporate leaders and members of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce to come testify in this chamber and ask the question, ‘Do you have women at the table?'”

Reynolds Brown’s press release about the resolution noted that women occupy just 10 percent of board seats in the city.

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