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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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