Bye. The House passed a birth control bill protecting and expanding access

Pennsylvania lawmakers passed a bill Tuesday protecting access to contraception at the state level, fulfilling a campaign promise made by House Democrats.

The Democratic-controlled House of Representatives approved by a 133-69 vote a measure that protects and expands access to emergency contraception, FDA-approved prescription and over-the-counter drugs, and voluntary adult sterilization surgeries through insurance companies, Medicaid and CHIP at no out-of-pocket cost. such as co-payments.

However, the bill faces an uphill battle in the state Senate, which has a Republican majority. A spokesman for the Senate Republican Caucus did not comment on the bill on Tuesday and said it would be referred to the appropriate standing committee.

There is currently no state protection for contraceptives in Pennsylvania, said state Rep. Leanne Krueger (D-Delaware), who introduced the bill in May 2023.

Since overturning the U.S. Supreme Court, Pennsylvania Democrats have placed reproductive health care at the center of their campaigns Roe v. Wade in 2022 and removed abortion as a constitutional right.

While the court’s abortion decision has put state lawmakers on high alert to protect other forms of reproductive care, two other landmark Supreme Court rulings protect access to contraception at the federal level. Still, when House Democrats gained a majority in 2022, supporters expected legislation like Krueger’s would be passed sooner.

On Tuesday the 32nd of 101 Republicans voted for the bill, while state Rep. Frank Burns (D., Cambria) was the only Democrat to vote against it. Krueger was hoping for a bipartisan outcome because the legislation passed with support from both Democrats and Republicans on the House Insurance and Rules Committee earlier this month.

The successful vote came after years of work in Harrisburg, Krueger said. The Legislature has introduced a bill in every legislative session since 2020, she said, but she was still at an impasse in House politics.

Democrats won a one-seat majority in the House of Representatives for the first time in 12 years in November 2022 and held that majority for several months until a series of vacancies left them in a momentary tie or as the minority party in the House. The party regained a slim majority in September 2023.

“There’s only so much we can do with such a slim majority. At the same time, we know that health care cannot wait,” said Signe Espinoza, executive director of Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Advocates.

Espinoza said that while the bill is unlikely to reach Gov. Josh Shapiro’s desk, she hopes the bill will remind voters of “who comes forward for reproductive and sexual health care.”

Krueger said she is not giving up the fight. “The legislative session won’t end until November 30,” Krueger said. “So we will be pushing hard until the end of the session to get votes in both the committee and the Senate.”

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