UPDATE PHOTOS: Planned Parenthood PA Rally

UPDATE PHOTOS: Planned Parenthood PA Rally

In the first six months of 2011, Pennsylvania lawmakers spent 30% of their days at the Capitol working to restrict access to safe, legal abortion, says Sari Stevens, Planned Parenthood PA executive director. Approaching today’s (9/27/2011) rally, Stevens said she’d rather the Pa. General Assembly turn their attention to more pressing problems like the economy than placing further restrictions on access to legal and safe abortions.

“We’ve polled 1,000 people and two said abortion was on the top of their list,” Stevens told Central Voice. In contrast, the US Census Bureau one week before the rally reported that 1 in 5, or 20%, of Dauphin County families with children under 18 years of age live in poverty. The state figure is 15.9% while the national rate is 17.9%.

“The first vote of the session was on Senate Bill 3 which limits abortion coverage that may be purchased under “health care exchanges,” Stevens points out. States are now establishing exchanges as part of the national health care plan that goes into effect between now and 2014.

Driving the Harrisburg debate is the unfortunate case of Kermit Gosnell, the Philadelphia doctor facing eight counts of murder in the deaths of a female patient and seven babies. He had allegedly performed abortions on them under unsafe conditions in his clinic.

Stevens reports that her counterparts in the southeastern part of the state had informed the Pa. Dept. of Health about potential abuses. State regulators ignored grievances filed against Gosnell, who reportedly made millions of dollars over the past 30 years by performing illegal, late-term abortions, and they failed to visit or inspect his clinic since 1993, District Attorney Seth Williams said during Gosnell’s initial court appearance.

“There are 37,000 legal abortions performed in Pennsylvania annually. The municipality of State College has that many residents,” Stevens said. Gosnell is the exception not the rule, Stevens says in arguing against further abortion restrictions.

A typical form of legislative action involves not outright banning of abortion but to make the rules about how the procedure can be performed so restrictive and complicated “no one can possibly comply,” Stevens said. We’ve had enough,” Stevens said, using the words that are the event’s rallying cry.

Individuals and organizations from Pittsburgh, suburban Philadelphia, and Allentown attended.

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