Pa. Lawmakers Unveil Women's Health Package

December 13, 2013 — The Pennsylvania Legislature's Women's Health Caucus this week unveiled a package of seven bills related to women's health, WESA reports (Nootbaar, WESA, 12/12).

Women's Health Caucus Co-Chair Dan Frankel (D) said the package is intended to act as a proactive agenda for the group, which has largely been on the defensive amid increased abortion restrictions in the state.

"We've seen a steady assault on women's reproductive health care, but we know that women's health goes beyond reproductive rights," he said (Langley, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 12/11).

Bill Package

The legislative package includes a bill by state Rep. Mark Painter (D) under which eligible employers would have to make reasonable accommodations for workers during pregnancy, after childbirth or if they have related medical conditions (Nichols, ABC 27, 12/13). The legislation, which will be introduced by state Sen. Matt Smith (D) in the Senate, would not apply if the needed accommodation constituted an undue burden on the employer's operations (WESA, 12/12). State Rep. Mary Jo Daley (D) proposed a bill (HB 1895) that would require employers to provide a private, clean area for breastfeeding employees to pump breast milk for up to one year after birth of an infant.

Another measure (HB 1891), proposed by state Rep. Matt Bradford (D), would create a 15-foot buffer zone around all health facilities to ensure picketing, patrolling or demonstrating does not block patients' access to the facilities (ABC 27, 12/13). The bill is the only proposal of the package that is related to abortion, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 12/11).

State Sen. Rob Teplitz (D) proposed a bill that would clarify and update legal standards for pay-equity lawsuits under the state's Pay Equity Law (WESA, 12/12). It also would protect employees from being penalized for discussing their salaries (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 12/11).

A measure introduced by state Rep. Maria Donatucci (D) would allow women ages 30 through 65 to qualify for the state's Healthy Woman Program, which would increase access to earlier health screenings (ABC 27, 12/13).

Another bill (HB 1796), sponsored by state Rep. Todd Stephens (R), would bolster protections for domestic violence survivors by prohibiting municipal ordinances that penalize residents or landlords for calling for help during an emergency (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 12/11).

State Sen. Judy Schwank (D) included a bill in the package that would prohibit the publication of any photo or video identifying another person who is undressed or engaging in a sexual act without that individual's consent (WESA, 12/12).