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Press Release: Legislators and Advocates at Women’s Health Forum Encourage Public To Take Action on Critical Women’s Health Issues

PHILADELPHIA – Dec. 16, 2010 – Raising Women’s Voices of Southeastern Pennsylvania, a women’s health coalition which PathWays PA is a member of, hosted a post-election public forum titled, What’s Next For Pennsylvania: A Public Forum on the Health and Well-Being of Women and Families. State legislators and community members from Southeastern Pennsylvania engaged in conversation about women’s health care needs as lawmakers begin to implement the new health care reform law in Pennsylvania.

Members of the public heard from and spoke with Senator Daylin Leach, Representative Tim Briggs, Representative Vanessa Lowery Brown, Representative-Elect Michelle Brownlee, Representative-Elect Tina Davis, Representative Tony Payton and Representative Josh Shapiro, lawmakers who will all make key decisions about how Pennsylvania health care reform is implemented during the upcoming legislative session.

Topics ranged from maternity care to family planning services and protecting women’s access to abortion care in the new Pennsylvania health insurance exchange. The need to protect access to these services became a reality when health care reform was signed into law in early 2010. In September, Senator Don White (R-11) introduced Senate Bill 1399, which would ban private insurance plans sold in Pennsylvania’s state exchange, created under health care reform, from covering even medically necessary abortion procedures. With an estimated 80% of private insurance plans currently covering abortion care, the forum’s host, Raising Women’s Voices of Southeastern Pennsylvania says that banning abortion coverage in the state exchange would leave women worse off than they were before health care reform began.

“While women gained many important benefits under the new health care reform law, they also lost critical reproductive health care benefits, and Pennsylvania women have the potential to lose even more,” said Rebecca Foley, Director of Education & Advocacy Initiatives at WOMEN’S WAY. “We need politicians to be working to protect and advance women’s health instead of denying Pennsylvania women access to fundamental reproductive health care services.”

The forum’s high attendance showed the community’s concern for women’s health, possibly due in part to the outcome of the recent election. Hoping these conversations continue, organizers of Raising Women’s Voices of Southeastern Pennsylvania urge the public to continue speaking with lawmakers – asking them to protect women’s health as they implement this new law. Groups in the region are invited to join the coalition and help stand up against the attacks on women’s reproductive health. Anyone interested should contact Rebecca Foley at WOMEN’S WAY at rfoley@womensway.org.

Raising Women’s Voices of Southeastern Pennsylvania is a coalition of more than 25 organizations which was formed by WOMEN’S WAY to ensure that women’s reproductive health concerns were addressed during the health care reform process. The group now advocates for health care reform implementation policies that support the full range of comprehensive reproductive health care services for women.

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