Legislation includes one of the strongest privacy laws in the nation to protect abortion as a fundamental right
PHILADELPHIA — Today, Councilmembers Helen Gym (At-Large), Kendra Brooks (At-Large) and Jamie Gauthier (3rd District) announced a comprehensive legislative package to defend abortion rights and protect patients, providers, and all people seeking reproductive care in the City of Philadelphia.
The package contains three bills:
● Councilmember Gym’s bill would limit the sharing of information on reproductive healthcare decisions for the purposes of prosecution or civil suits.
● Councilmember Gauthier’s bill would protect patients and providers from “vigilante” lawsuits related to reproductive healthcare decisions by enacting a right to counter-sue.
● Councilmember Brooks’ bill would update Philadelphia’s anti-discrimination laws to protect reproductive health decisions from workplace discrimination and retaliation.
“Our city will always stand in defense of abortion access and reproductive rights,” said Councilmember Helen Gym. “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. With my legislation, Philadelphia will enact one of the strongest privacy laws in the country to protect abortion as a fundamental right.”
The legislative package also contains a central resolution declaring the intent of City Council for the City of Philadelphia to proactively defend abortion rights and protect patients and providers, and authorizes the creation of an abortion rights task force. Council outlines several steps for the City to take, including restricting the use of any municipal resources to assist out-of-state investigation, lawsuits, or prosecution related to abortions and supporting a public health education campaign to improve awareness of trusted abortion and reproductive healthcare options.
“Everyone deserves the right to control their own body and destiny,” said Councilmember Jamie Gauthier. “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. This legislation sends a clear message to anti-life heretics trying to control our bodies: hands off.”
“The right to abortion is one of our most essential freedoms, one that allows us to govern our bodies and the course of our lives,” said Councilmember Kendra Brooks. “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.”
“New Voices stands in support of City Councilmembers Helen Gym, Kendra Brooks, and Jamie Gauthier in their efforts to create a space where everyone feels safe to make choices about their own bodies and livelihoods,” said Kelly Davis, Executive Director, New Voices for Reproductive Justice. “As the only Black Reproductive Justice organization in the state of Pennsylvania, and the first in Ohio, we have seen the ripple effect of state abortion bans throughout the entire region. 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.”
“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,” said Alhambra Frarey, MD, MSHP, OBGYN and abortion provider in Philadelphia. “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.”
“After watching state lawmakers convene in the middle of the night to devise a scheme to strip our reproductive rights out of the Pennsylvania state constitution, we are grateful to stand in the light of day with courageous leaders of Philadelphia City Council, who are working to protect us from the devastating harm of politically imposed barriers to abortion and related healthcare,” said Amal Bass, interim co-director of Women’s Law Project, a public interest legal organization that represents abortion providers in Pennsylvania. “Reproductive rights are human rights. We cannot allow the human rights abuses reported in states that banned abortion to come to us here. Philadelphia must be a beacon for people forced to flee their home states to find critical healthcare.”
“At a time when the Supreme Court has abandoned protecting reproductive freedom for all, it is vitally important that state and local governments step in to fill the breach for their residents and citizens,” said David Cohen, law professor at Drexel Kline School of Law who is also a consulting attorney with the Women’s Law Project. “This package of bills is a vital step toward making sure that everyone in Philadelphia — as well as everyone who travels here to get care — will be able to access abortion and other reproductive health care without fear and with confidence that they will be protected.”
“Philadelphia Women’s Center has provided abortion care for Pennsylvanians since 1972. We are deeply committed to our communities and we are not backing down,” said Roxanne Sutocky, Director of Community Engagement of The Women’s Centers. “We appreciate Councilmembers Kendra Brooks, Jamie Gauthier, and Helen Gym for introducing the Philadelphia Reproductive Freedom Platform. We will do what it takes to make sure people get the abortion care they need- and it’s going to take all of us, working together.”
“We are honored to support this vital work led by Councilmembers Helen Gym, Jamie Gauthier, and Kendra Brooks with support from Councilmembers Cindy Bass and Katherine Gilmore-Richardson to protect access to abortion care and provider and patient rights in Philadelphia,” said Melissa Weiler Gerber, President & CEO of AccessMatters. “We applaud these City Council members for their leadership and stand with them in their steadfast commitment to fighting back against attempts to curtail
abortion access, and working to protect the rights of all people who live in Philadelphia or access or deliver services in here.”
The three bills are cosponsored by Councilmembers Cindy Bass (8th District) and Katherine Gilmore Richardson (At-Large). The resolution is additionally supported by Councilmembers Kenyatta Johnson (2nd District), Curtis Jones, Jr. (4th District), and Isaiah Thomas (At-Large)