Welcome to the PA Campaign for Women’s Health

When the phrase “women’s health” is uttered in the halls of the Capitol in Harrisburg, it is often simply code for yet another abortion ban. Meanwhile, women’s health and economic security in Pennsylvania ranks among the worst in the country.

Pennsylvania has 1,237 pages of abortion regulations, and yet in Philadelphia, pregnancy-related mortality has more than doubled from the 1980s to the 2000s. Across the state and across the country, black women are at least three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than white women due to a constellation of factors.

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Working women in Pennsylvania lack basic protections. Our equal pay law is so broken that experts estimate that without corrective policy intervention, Pennsylvania women will not earn equal pay until 2072. Some pregnant workers are still fired for asking for a glass of water at work. Women working at small businesses have less protection against sexual harassment than employees of bigger companies. As reports of targeted harassment of abortion providers are rising, right-wing groups are trying to knock down buffer zone in Pittsburgh.

The Pennsylvania Campaign for Women’s Health was founded to advocate for solutions to these problems. The Campaign is a growing collaboration of more than 50 local, state and national organizations working together to improve women’s health and economic security in Pennsylvania by calling for evidence-based policies that promote equal access to reproductive healthcare and workplace equality.

We are already building on success, with public hearings on issues that have been neglected for decades, such as equal pay.

Keep up with our progress easily by liking the Pennsylvania Campaign for Women’s Health on Facebook, where we’ll post updates on our progress and calls to action.

Calling on PA Lawmakers to Close Gaps in Equal Pay Law

Pennsylvania’s equal pay law has too many gaps and is too weak to be effective.

While gender wage gaps persist across the country, Pennsylvania women are worse off than the national average. Without simple corrective policies that close gaps in current equal pay law, American women, on average, will not achieve equal pay until 2058.

Pennsylvania women, however, are not on track to earn equal pay until the year 2072.

April 12 symbolizes how far into this year women must work on average to earn what white non-Hispanic men earned in the previous year. To mark this unfortunate occasion, advocates from across the state of Pennsylvania are heading to the Capitol in Harrisburg to call for equal pay for equal work.

“The pay gap is not a myth, it’s math,” says Dot McLane, President of the American Association of University Women of Pennsylvania. “As AAUW’s research has shown, women of every race and ethnicity experience a gender pay gap, beginning even one year after college graduation.”

Pennsylvania recently held the first public hearings on the subject of equal pay in more than 50 years after several bills to close the gaps in current law were introduced. Unfortunately, despite abundant evidence of the gender wage gap discussed during those hearings, the bills (HB 1160 – Sims/Davis and SB 303 – Teplitz/Williams) have been left to die of neglect in Committee. The current law has not been updated since 1967, when it was amended to reduce the number of Pennsylvanians to whom it applied.

“It’s time for a stronger equal pay law,” said Rep. Brian Sims (D-Philadelphia). “Pennsylvania women are paid on average 54 to 83 cents for every dollar a man makes, depending on which county they live in. Equal work deserves equal pay. Anything less is unacceptable.”

Sen. Rob Teplitz, (D-Dauphin/Perry), said, “Wage inequality and pay secrecy are not only a detriment to working women, but to families. Women make up half of our workforce, and many Pennsylvania households are headed by women, so improvements to the pay equity law not only impact women, but their families as well.”

We have the information we need to correct this problem, but where is the political will?

Pennsylvania’s current equal pay law is too weak to be effective.  Yet, the Pennsylvania Legislature has so far refused to bring any corrective bills out of committee for a floor vote–while also refusing to move bills that would raise the minimum wage, a bill that would prevent pregnancy discrimination in the workplace, and another that would help ensure nursing workers have a private, sanitary space to express breast milk.

“House Bill 1160, the equal-pay legislation, should be at the forefront of everyone’s legislative efforts,” said Rep. Tina Davis (D-Bucks). “It is unacceptable that the effort to provide economic opportunity and equality is allowed to wallow in committee for almost 11 months. Let’s get House Bill 1160 out of committee and to votes before the House and Senate.”

By refusing to support working women, the Pennsylvania Legislature is refusing to enable women to support their families.

These bills are also supported by the PA Campaign for Women’s Health, a growing coalition of more than 50 local, state and national organizations calling for real solutions to real problems faced by Pennsylvania women.

For more information, go to aauw-pa.aauw.net and www.pa4womenshealth.org. Contact Toni Hoffman at aauwpapp1@gmail.com and Tara Murtha at tmurtha@womenslawproject.org.

 

 

Pennsylvania Campaign for Women’s Health Statement on Governor Wolf’s Executive Order on Minimum Wage

Today, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed an executive order ensuring a minimum wage of $10.15 an hour for all employees under his jurisdiction and employees of Pennsylvania state government contractors.

“While we applaud this executive order, it underscores the need to raise the minimum wage for all Pennsylvania workers,” said Tara Murtha, Communications Chair of the Pennsylvania Campaign for Women’s Health and Associate Director of Strategic Communications at the Women’s Law Project. “We are one of only two states in the Northeast with a minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, the lowest hourly wage permitted by federal law.”

In addition to signing the executive order, Governor Tom Wolf also called upon legislators to pass a minimum wage increase for all Pennsylvania workers.

Forty percent of all households with children under the age of 18 include mothers who are either the sole or primary source of income for the family. In Pennsylvania, women are nearly three-quarters of minimum wage workers—a higher share than all but two other states.

This means that minimum-wage workers in Pennsylvania—mostly women—cannot support themselves and their families, even while working full-time, year-round jobs. A Pennsylvania woman working full time at minimum wage earns just $14,500 annually, more than $4,500 below the official U.S. poverty line for a mother with two children.

“It’s a great step for Governor Wolf to raise the wages of state workers, but there’s still much work to be done… Raising the state minimum wage to $10.15 would give a raise to over 1.2 million Pennsylvania workers,” said Amy Fetherolf, Communications Director for Pennsylvania Working Families. “Pennsylvania’s workers and its economy are being left behind, as 29 other states have raised their minimum wage above the $7.25 federal level.”

Pennsylvania Working Families is a member of the PA Campaign for Women’s Health, a coalition of more than 50 organizations calling for common-sense policy solutions to real problems faced by real families.

The Pennsylvania Campaign for Women’s Health and Raise the Wage PA support proposed legislation that would raise Pennsylvania’s minimum wage to at least $10.10 per hour, raise the tipped minimum wage to at least 70 percent of the minimum wage, index these wages to keep up with inflation, and increase penalties for employers who fail to pay workers the wages they are due.

Leadership members of the Pennsylvania Campaign for Women’s Health include AccessMatters, Keystone Progress Education Fund, New Voices Pittsburgh: Women of Color for Reproductive Justice (NVP), New Voices Philadelphia, Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Advocates, Philadelphia Women’s Center and the Women’s Law Project.

For more information about how the minimum wage affects working women and families in Pennsylvania, see this fact sheet.

To request an interview, contact Tara Murtha at tmurtha@womenslawproject. To learn more about the Pennsylvania Campaign for Women’s Health, visit www.pa4womenshealth.org.

 

 

 

PA Campaign for Women’s Health Supports New Effort to Prevent Abortion Clinic Violence & Harassment

Last November, three people were murdered and nine more injured when a man went on a shooting rampage at the Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs. The attack happened amid a sharp increase in threats and violence against abortion providers across the country—including here in Pennsylvania.

“The burden of public safety should not be carried by reproductive healthcare workers alone,” said Amanda Kifferly, Director of Patient Advocacy for The Women’s Centers. “We support legislation that unites the healthcare community with lawmakers and safety officials to criminalize violent acts against doctors, healthcare staff, and patients seeking care at our Centers.”

Pennsylvania abortion providers have been subjected to death threats, obstructive clinic protests, fake anthrax attacks, bomb threats, arson, vandalism, targeted harassment at home and at church, internet stalking, and assault. Counting the tragedy in Colorado Springs, there have been 11 murders and 28 attempted murders in attacks targeting reproductive health care providers in the US and Canada.

Pennsylvania Senator Larry Farnese (D-Philadelphia) has taken steps to address this crisis by introducing  Senate Bill 1105, which would provide freedom of access to reproductive health care facilities. “My new proposal makes it clear that people who try to intimidate or hurt women entering a reproductive health care clinic will be punished, ordered to pay a hefty fine, and spend a lot of time in jail,” said Sen. Farnese, who has worked as a volunteer clinic escort.

Modeled on federal legislation, SB 1105 provides for safe access to reproductive health care facilities, prohibits harassment and intimidation of patients and clinic staff, and combats vandalism and deliberate obstruction of clinic entrances.

“In light of the violence, arsons, threats, and terrorism against abortion providers and patients over the past several months, this bill is needed now more than ever,” said David S. Cohen, professor at the Thomas R. Kline School of Law at Drexel University and co-author of Living in the Crosshairs: The Untold Stories of Anti-Abortion Terrorism.

Senate Bill 1105 is part of the Pennsylvania Agenda for Women’s Health, a package of bills supported by members of the Women’s Health Caucus of the Pennsylvania Legislature, a bipartisan group of lawmakers focused on addressing the state’s appalling record on women’s health by promoting evidence-based health policy, eliminating workplace discrimination, and other initiatives aimed at advancing women’s health and well-being.

The Pennsylvania Campaign for Women’s Health, a group of more than 50 local, state and national organizations calling for evidence-based state policies that support women’s health and economic security in Pennsylvania, enthusiastically supports this new effort to address the troubling rise in anti-abortion violence and harassment.

“This policy is based on the federal Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, which is a pretty straightforward concept,” says Tara Murtha, Communications Chair of the Pennsylvania Campaign for Women’s Health. “Threatening doctors, harassing patients, physically blocking strangers, and vandalizing buildings isn’t acceptable just because the harasser personally disapproves of whatever presumptions they’ve made about their target.”

On Wednesday, January 20 at 10AM, Senator Larry Farnese will participate in a Twitter Townhall Q&A about clinic violence and harassment and SB 1105. Additional participants include David S. Cohen, representatives of Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Advocates, the Philadelphia Women’s Centers, and the Women’s Law Project, and other members of the Pennsylvania Campaign for Women’s Health. More details will be available early next week.

Leadership members of the Pennsylvania Campaign for Women’s Health include the Women’s Law Project, Keystone Progress Education Fund, Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Associates, New Voices Pittsburgh: Women of Color for Reproductive Justice (NVP), New Voices Philadelphia, AccessMatters, Philadelphia Women’s Center, and the ACLU of Pennsylvania.

To request more information or to request an interview, contact Tara Murtha at tmurtha@womenslawproject. To learn more about the PA Campaign for Women’s Health, visit www.pa4womenshealth.org.

 

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PA Renews Effort to Keep Politics out of Healthcare

PA Campaign for Women’s Health Agrees Doctors Shouldn’t Be Forced to Lie to Patients

PENNSYLVANIA – Across the country, politicians have been quietly passing laws and regulations that either coerce doctors to mislead their patients—and in some cases, outright lie—or alternatively, gag them from having truthful conversations about their patient’s health. Politicians have even used legislation to coerce doctors into performing medically-unnecessary procedures—such as is the case with bills that mandate transvaginal ultrasounds before performing an abortion.

The 2014 report “Bad Medicine: How a Political Agenda is Undermining Women’s Health Care” by the National Partnership for Women & Families revealed that at least 33 states have passed these government medical interference laws in recent years. With today’s re-introduction of the Patient Trust Act by Rep. Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny, Pennsylvania has the opportunity to lead the country by stating unequivocally that politicians should stay out of exam rooms.

“Doctors aren’t dummies. They don’t go to school for all those years so they can be forced to provide medically inaccurate information, or perform gratuitous procedures in order to satisfy a politicians’ desire to control the medical decisions of private citizens,” said Tara Murtha, Communications Chair of the PA Campaign for Women’s Health, a diverse statewide advocacy campaign of more than 40 organizations across the state supporting the legislative Agenda for Women’s Health and the values and issues it is centered around.

As an example of government interference in medical advice in Pennsylvania, Frankel points to Act 13 of 2012, legislation that many fear will limit the ability of health care providers to discuss the potential harm of chemicals involved in natural gas fracking with their patients.

Another example is a Florida law, heavily lobbied for by the NRA, which prohibits a doctor from asking a patient about access to guns in the home, despite the fact that the American Academy of Pediatrics considers a doctor asking this type of question as a best practice for protecting children from risk of accidental gunfire in the home when firearms are improperly stored.

Five states have passed laws requiring providers give patients information unsupported by scientific data about a supposed link between abortion and breast cancer, although the American Cancer Society has repeatedly stated that there is no such link.

“Patients trust that their doctor is telling them the truth, the whole truth, and that their health is the doctor’s primary concern. We should protect that trust,” said Frankel, who co-chairs the Women’s Health Caucus.” Patients shouldn’t worry that they are on the receiving end of a political agenda when they go to the doctor.”

House Bill 1105, known as the Patient Trust Act, is a primary focus of the General Assembly’s Women’s Health Caucus, which formed with the goal of turning around the state’s appalling record on women’s health by promoting evidence-based health policy, eliminating workplace discrimination, and other initiatives aimed at advancing women’s health.

The PA Campaign for Women’s Health includes more than 40 organizations. Members of the Campaign include the Women’s Law Project, Keystone Progress Education Fund, Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Associates, New Voices Pittsburgh: Women of Color for Reproductive Justice (NVP), New Voices Philadelphia, AccessMatters, Philadelphia Women’s Center, and the ACLU of Pennsylvania.

The Patient Trust Act is also supported by the National Partnership for Women and Families, the Pennsylvania section of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the Pennsylvania Affiliate of the American College of Nurse-Midwives, CeaseFire PA, Penn Environment, Healthcare for All-Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Academy of Family Physicians and the Pennsylvania Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers.

For more information, contact:

John Neurohr, 724-903-0077, john@keystoneprogress.org

Tara Murtha, 215-928-5762, tmurtha@womenslawproject.org

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Religious Support for the PA Agenda for Women’s Health

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

Our faith-based group, the Unitarian Universalist Pennsylvania Legislative Advocacy Network, is proud to have been one of two faith-based groups invited to the May 11 press conference in Harrisburg where the Pennsylvania Agenda for Women’s Health was presented to the General Assembly.

As Unitarian Universalists we support the inherent worth and dignity of every person. And we understand that women in Pennsylvania do not always have access to healthy conditions or fairness in the workplace. Therefore, the package of more than 13 bills contained in this agenda are critical for both promoting healthy families and contributing to Pennsylvania’s overall economic strength.

We feel it is vital that liberal religious voices support the bipartisan effort behind the PA Agenda for Women’s Health so that our legislators can continue moving Pennsylvania forward.

LIZ PERKINS
Squirrel Hill

The writer is co-chair, Reproductive Justice Team, Unitarian Universalist Pennsylvania Legislative Advocacy Network.

Agenda for Women’s Health in the News

On Monday—the first day of national Women’s Health Week—Pennsylvania lawmakers convened in the Capitol in Harrisburg to announce a legislative package designed to protect women’s health and promote economic prosperity.

Bills in the Agenda for Women’s Health are sponsored mainly by members of the Women’s Health Caucus, a bipartisan, pro-choice group of lawmakers from both chambers of the Pennsylvania Legislature committed to taking pro-active steps to improve abysmal status of women in our state. In national surveys, Pennsylvania routinely ranks disastrously low across all indicators of women’s health and economic security.

“The women’s health agenda is a proactive package of bills aimed at providing commonsense solutions to problems affecting women with families in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” said Rep. Dan Frankel (D-Allegheny), co-chair of the Women’s Health Caucus.

Frankel co-chairs the caucus with Rep. Farry (R-Bucks), Sen. Judy Schwank (D-Berks), and Chuck McIlhinney (R-Bucks).

In response to the introduction of these bills for the 2015-2016 legislative session, advocates announced the formation of a statewide coalition to support the effort: the Campaign for Women’s Health.

Both the Agenda and the Campaign have been well-received across the state, including coverage in WHYY Newsworks, the Philadelphia Inquirer, WESA Pittsburgh, The Patriot-News and the National Partnership.

Stay tuned for updates to the bills.

For more information about the Agenda or the Campaign for Women’s Health, contact us at PA4WomensHealth@gmail.com.

 

 

 

 

New Campaign Supports the PA Agenda for Women’s Health

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE May 11, 2015

Contact: Meghan Eirkson, Campaign Chair, 717.991.0805 (Harrisburg)
Tara Murtha, Campaign Communications Director, 215.928.5767 (Philadelphia)

New Campaign Supports the PA Agenda for Women’s Health

Advocates and health care providers call for evidence-based policy solutions 

The Campaign for Women’s Health is a new statewide coalition that supports the Pennsylvania Agenda for Women’s Health, a legislative package of bills that proposes evidence-based policy solutions to real problems faced by women and families in Pennsylvania.

Agenda bills are sponsored mainly by members of the Women’s Health Caucus, a bipartisan, pro-choice group of lawmakers from both chambers of the Pennsylvania Legislature committed to taking pro-active steps to improve abysmal status of women’s health and economic security in our state. In national surveys, Pennsylvania routinely ranks disastrously low across all indicators of women’s health and economic security.

Today, the Campaign for Women’s Health applauds the Women’s Health Caucus for their continued commitment to improving conditions for women in Pennsylvania with the announcement of a new wave of Agenda bills. Last session, numerous Agenda bills were introduced and three bills were passed, including a ban on intimate partner harassment (Act 115 of 2014) and a new law that protects domestic violence victims from being evicted in retaliation for calling the police for help (Act 200 of 2014).

The Agenda bills introduced at the Capitol today include reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers, accommodations for nursing mothers in the workplace, raising the minimum wage, and ensuring patient trust by protecting the integrity of provider-patient communications, along with many others. In all, the Agenda includes 13 bills that promote economic fairness, family-friendly working conditions, physical health, and freedom from violence and abuse.

“In such divided times, it is heartening to see legislators coming together from across the aisle to make these improvements for women and their families a priority,” said Meghan Eirkson, Campaign Chair.

To support this effort, nearly two dozen organizations have united to form the Campaign for Women’s Health, united around the idea that it’s time to stop playing politics with women’s lives.

“For years now in Harrisburg, the phrase ‘women’s health’ has been code for restricting access to safe abortion and contraception for poor women,” says Tara Murtha, PA Campaign for Women’s Health Communications Director. “The data shows us that pretending these personal-belief politics makes for good public health policy leads to disaster.”

The Agenda and the Campaign are important first steps in changing the conversation about women’s health in Pennsylvania.

For more information about the Agenda for Women’s Health, please visit www.pa4womenshealth.org, contact pa4womenshealth@gmail.com, or reach out to the press contacts above.

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