Philly Council members announce reproductive freedom platform

‘Our city will always stand in defense of abortion access and reproductive rights,’ Councilmember Helen Gym said

By: - September 15, 2022 11:36 am

Philadelphia Democratic mayoral candidate Helen Gym.

By Naiser Warren-Robinson

PHILADELPHIA — City Councilmembers Helen Gym, Kendra Brooks and Jamie Gauthier announced their Reproductive Freedom Platform for Philadelphia, a legislative package containing three bills created by each council member that aims to defend abortion access and protect all people seeking and administering reproductive healthcare in the city of Philadelphia.

The legislative package was announced Wednesday outside of the Federal Municipal Services Building.

“Our city will always stand in defense of abortion access and reproductive rights,” Gym said. “This legislative package was shaped by the people serving on the frontlines of this crisis — reproductive justice organizations, medical providers, and advocacy groups. With this package, we will bring them the protection and privacy they need to provide essential health care, and deliver further protections for all people seeking care within our city.”

Gym’s bill seeks to strengthen privacy protections for those seeking reproductive care by barring anyone from voluntarily sharing information related to people seeking or providing reproductive healthcare when it could be used to criminalize or penalize that care that is legal in Pennsylvania.

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“With my legislation, Philadelphia will enact one of the strongest privacy laws in the country to protect abortion as a fundamental right,” Gym said.

Gauthier’s bill looks to protect patients and providers from lawsuits related to reproductive healthcare decisions by giving those people the right to countersue.

“I am proud that through the Reproductive Freedom Package, Philadelphia will become one of the safest places in the nation for people to exercise their fundamental right to reproductive healthcare,” said Gauthier. This legislation sends a clear message to anti-life heretics trying to control our bodies: hands off.”

Brooks’ bill aims to update Philadelphia’s anti-discrimination laws to protect reproductive health decisions from workplace discrimination and retaliation.

“As a Black woman, a mother, and someone who has had an abortion, I’m proud to co-sponsor the Reproductive Freedom Platform for Philadelphia to ensure that every person in our city is in control of their bodies, lives, and futures,” Brooks said.

The package also attempts to defend abortion rights by establishing an Abortion Rights Task Force, supporting health education campaigns, supporting the allocation of additional funding to cover the cost of abortions and reproductive healthcare, working with providers to increase safety at abortion clinics, and restricting the use of municipal resources to assist out of state investigations, lawsuits or prosecution related to abortions.

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The council members were also joined by reproductive healthcare providers and advocates to support the introduction of this package.

“Black people continue to suffer the most due to inequitable and racist care provision and access. The proposed Reproductive Rights platform would not just change the landscape of abortion access in Philadelphia, it could shape how we protect, educate, and resource communities in Pennsylvania and beyond that are disproportionately impacted by anti-abortion legislation,” Kelly Davis, the executive director of the advocacy group, New Voices for Reproductive Justice, said.

“Abortion providers in Philadelphia are continuing to work to provide our community with the care it needs and deserves, free from punishment, shame or stigma,” Dr. Alhambra Frarey, a Philadelphia abortion provider, said.  “It is vital that we have the support of the city in providing this essential care, and this legislation is an important step to defend abortion rights.”

The council members intend to introduce the package to city council on Thursday, the day council meetings resume.

Naiser Warren-Robinson is a reporter for the Philadelphia Tribune, where this story first appeared.

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