PA Lawmakers Roll Out Agenda for Women’s Health

¬†Harrisburg, December 11, 2013 – Members of the Pennsylvania Senate and House Women’s Health Caucuses unveiled an ambitious first round package of bills to kick off their proactive Agenda for Women’s Health. Too often these past years the Republican dominated General Assembly has passed bills restricting women’s access to necessary healthcare and abridging women’s rights under the rhetorical, fact-free guise of “protecting women’s health.” By viewing women’s issues more broadly, by relating financial security, access to healthcare, accommodations for mothers at work, and women’s physical safety as interrelated and germane to women’s health, lawmakers today gave Pennsylvania women reason to hope that finally their true needs and concerns are being addressed in Harrisburg.

First round bills will:

  • provide sanitary conditions in the workplace for nursing mothers – The bill would require employers to provide compensated break time and private, sanitary space to employees while expressing milk.
  • broaden eligibility for cancer screenings
  • provide for pregnancy accommodations at work – This would require employers to provide common sense accommodations so pregnant employees can remain employed. These include allowing employees to carry a water bottle, making sure there’s a chair or stool nearby where a pregnant woman can sit down, and just in general treating pregnancy like the temporary condition it is.
  • address Pennsylvania’s gender wage gap – This includes ending employer retaliation against employees for discussing wages, known as “pay secrecy,” and closing Pennsylvania’s “factor other than sex” loophole that for too long has been used by state employers to justify paying women less than men for equal work.
  • provide for a 15-foot buffer zone around health clinic entrances to ensure both patients and staff safe access while also protecting First Amendment rights.
  • amend the harassment law to protect women from a new form of intimate partner violence where private pictures or videos are shared digitally with malicious intent. Often called “revenge porn,” Representative Tina Davis pointed out that term does not adequately describe the horror and danger for its victims, and implies that they are somehow participants in the porn industry.

The Agenda was spearheaded by Representative Dan Frankel, Senator Judy Schwank and Senator Chuck McIllhinney in conjunction with the Women’s Law Project, and then developed by a broad coalition of Pennsylvania advocacy organizations that work on behalf of women every day. Pennsylvania NOW is proud to support this comprehensive Agenda (PA NOW Statement of Support).

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