In response to a piece of sweeping anti-abortion legislation in Texas, Wendy Davis became a household name for millions of Americans as she went on an epic 11 hour filibuster to kill House Bill 2. Even though Davis prevailed, Texas legislators were soon called into a special session to pass House Bill 2, which would have banned all abortions after 20 weeks, even in the cases of rape, incest and to save the mother’s life. On top of the post-20-week abortion ban, there is a provision that was the central strategy to destroy a woman’s access to abortion state-by-state. This provision, which is a backdoor ban on women’s reproductive rights and was drafted by the ALEC-esque Americans United for Life, is the identical provision used in similar legislation introduced in at least 14 states around the country. This backdoor attack on women’s reproductive health has a supporter in Pennsylvania’s 13th Congressional Democratic Primary.
At the latest 13th Congressional Candidate Forum, which was attended by 5 of the 6 Democratic and Republican candidates, a constituent recalled a grassroots movement to prevent Abington Memorial Hospital from merging with Holy Redeemer Hospital. The merger could have resulted in the loss of women’s services to area residents, because Holy Redeemer Hospital is a Catholic hospital that does not offer contraceptive or abortion services. After reminding Brendan Boyle of these events, the constituent asked a simple question, “What is your position on a woman’s right to choose?” After the two pro-life republican candidates gave their statements, State Representative Brendan Boyle went on the record saying “I support Roe v. Wade, it’s been the law of the land for almost 50 years. I think it clearly will continue to be so,” and jumped into addressing the issues of lost services from hospital issues. The next candidate to answer the question was pro-choice candidate Daylin Leach, who addressed his extensive history as fighting for a woman’s right to choose and went on to bring up State Representative Brendan Boyle’s anti-choice record. Leach stated:
This is something in particular that Brendan and I have a difference on. There is a bill called TRAP – Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers. It was invented by this group called [American Legislative Exchange Council], which is a right-wing group, that says ‘we can’t ban abortion, but what we can do is make them unavailable by requiring clinics to have all kinds of unreasonable things.’ Two elevators. 25 foot wide hallways. Whatever it is. [Pennsylvania's legislature] passed TRAP. I fought against it. We didn’t have the votes, and as a result, 8 of the 22 clinics that exist in Pennsylvania have now closed, and there are 5 or 6 more that are endangered of closing. Again, Brendan supported that. I led the fight against that. I would say it’s true that there are other democrats who voted for it. Keep in mind what we are dealing with in Pennsylvania. The majority of the Democratic caucus are members of the pro-life caucus. There was also a bill Brendan was a co-sponsor of, which Wendy Davis – you may remember – became famous for filibustering in Texas, which was the Physician Affiliation bill. Maybe I am wrong. Five clinics that offer various reproductive services closed because of the TRAP law that was brought into question.
Boyle rebutted Leach’s accusation, stating that “[Leach] is incorrect,” and after some back and forth, Boyle stated:
“I want to be fair to Val [Arkoosh], so I want to take a moment. First of foremost, here’s the fact. Absolutely not the case that the bill Wendy Davis was filibustering was actually up for debate in Pennsylvania. The bill, as I understand it, in Texas that Wendy Davis was filibustering would have banned all abortions after 20 weeks. Even in the instances of rape, incest and to save the life of the mother. There is no such bill in Pennsylvania. That is not law in Pennsylvania. It is simply inaccurate and a distortion in order to try to fool people and to put that sort of scare tactic out there. I for one in my career is someone who has been trying to deal with a very complex and emotional issue in a mature and adult way. Not getting into the food fight and the name calling that too often happens on this issue, and trying to deal with it in a sincere way that values women’s health and also recognizes that good people on this issue can disagree.”
While State Representative Brandon Boyle is correct about the ban on all abortions after 20 weeks, even in the cases of rape, incest and to save the life of the mother, State Representative Brendan Boyle has co-sponsored anti-choice legislation that was crafted by the ALEC style legislative mill, Americans United for Life. The copycat bill that Brendan Boyle signed on to is the same exact legislation that was at the center of the Texas House Bill 2 fight and in a number of Republican dominated states like Wisconsin, Ohio, Alabama and Mississippi. The ALEC-style provisions that Daylin Leach was referring to at the debate are known as “admitting privileges,” which require all abortion clinics to be within 30 miles of a local hospital. And it just happens that the same “30 mile radius” appears in state after state after state. According to the Guttmacher Institute, admitting privileges are required in four states and ten states “require providers to have either admitting privileges or alternative arrangement, such as an agreement with another physician who has admitting privileges. In 2011, State Representative Brendan Boyle was one of many Democrats to cosponsor such legislation. In its entirety House Bill 1314 reads:
Section 1. Section 3213 of Title 18 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes is amended by adding a subsection to read: § 3213. Prohibited acts. * * * (g) Clinical privileges.–Any physician performing or inducing an abortion who does not have clinical privileges at a hospital which offers obstetrical or gynecological care located within 30 miles of the location at which the abortion is performed or induced shall, upon conviction, be guilty of a misdemeanor in the third degree and shall be punished as provided by law. Section 2. This act shall take effect in 60 days.
As mentioned above, these copycat abortion restrictions have appeared in Ohio, Alabama, Mississippi and in the case of Texas’ House Bill 2, the admitting privileges, which were overturned in court, read as:
Sec. 171.0031 (a) a physician performing or inducing an abortion: (1) must, on the date the abortion is performed or included, have active admitting privileges at a hospital that: (A) is located not further than 30 miles from the location at which the abortion is performed or induced and (B) provides obstetrical or gynecological health care services.
In Wisconsin, similar legislation reads:
Admitting privileges required. No physician may perform an abortion, as defined in s. 253.10 (2) (a), unless he or she has admitting privileges in a hospital within 30 miles of the location where the abortion is to be performed.(3) Penalty. Any person who violates this section shall be required to forfeit not less than $1,000 nor more than $10,000. No penalty may be assessed against the woman upon whom the abortion is performed or induced or attempted to be performed or induced.
The source document titled Abortion Providers’ Privileging Act fancies itself as a “model legislation and policy guide for the 2013 legislative year,” and the smoking gun that appears in clinic closing legislations from around the country can be found on page 6, section. It states:
On any day when any abortion is performed in an abortion clinic, a physician with admitting privileges at an accredited hospital in this State and within thirty (30) miles of the abortion clinic must remain on the premises of the abortion clinic to facilitate the transfer of emergency cases if hospitalization of an abortion patient or a child born alive is necessary and until all abortion patients are stable and ready to leave the recovery room.
What’s even better is the Americans for United Life brags, yes they actually brag, about state legislatures and governors passing and signing their model legislation. They write:
Americans United for Life President and CEO Dr. Charmaine Yoest called today’s signing of Georgia SB 98, which prohibits insurance plans that cover abortion from participating in the state’s health insurance “exchange” established under Obamacare, and prohibits state employees from receiving publicly-funded insurance coverage for abortion, “the kind of courageous, bi-partisan effort that engages the majority of Americans troubled by an aggressive and expanding abortion industry.” Governor Nathan Deal today signed the new law that was based on AUL’s model legislation designed to protect taxpayers from an avaricious abortion lobby by preventing public funding from subsidizing insurance coverage
Sure. Brendan Boyle may go on the record and tell potential constituents that “[He] support[s] Roe v. Wade, it’s been the law of the land for almost 50 years. I think clearly will continue to be so,” but his actions are actively undermining the quality of women’s health. If it were up to Brendan Boyle, the TRAP laws he supports and the copycat legislation that helped introduce into the Pennsylvania General Assembly, Brendan Boyle would send women’s reproductive practice back to the days of women getting unlicensed back alley abortions. We are in the 21st century. Supporting a woman’s right to choose whether or not to have an abortion is supposed to be a pillar of the Democratic Party.