News Law and Policy

Anti-Choice Pennsylvania Lawmakers Push ‘Conscientious Objection’ Bill

Nina Liss-Schultz

Pennsylvania lawmakers on Tuesday introduced two bills that would make it harder for state residents to access abortions as well as a number of other reproductive health-care services.

Pennsylvania lawmakers on Tuesday introduced two bills that would make it harder for state residents to access abortions as well as a number of other reproductive health-care services.

SB 292, dubbed the “Conscientious Objection Act,” would allow any health-care provider to opt out of offering a range of services, all related to reproductive health, if that service “violates the health care provider’s conscience.”

Included in the list of services that a provider could refuse to offer are abortion, artificial birth control, artificial insemination, assisted reproduction, emergency contraception, and human embryonic stem-cell research.

The bill specifies not only that providers—which include physicians, nurses’ aides, and pharmacists as well as medical or nursing school faculty, students, employees, and social workers—can choose not to offer those services, but also that they can refuse to refer, counsel, test, or diagnose patients for any of these services.

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The second piece of legislation introduced in Pennsylvania on Tuesday, SB 291, would ban the use of public money for abortions, and would preempt any local laws seeking to do so.

That same day, Democrat Tom Wolf was sworn into office as the new governor of Pennsylvania. Wolf, a former clinic escort for Planned Parenthood, identifies as pro-choice.

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