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Press Release

Attorney General Shapiro Taking Action To Defend Women’s Reproductive Rights

January 8, 2020 | Topic: Rights

HARRISBURG – Attorney General Josh Shapiro is taking another step to defend women’s reproductive rights by entering Pennsylvania into a multi-state effort to protect access to safe and legal abortion care.

The multi-state coalition submitted an amicus brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit to voice support for a lawsuit that challenges several Arkansas state laws that would restrict women’s access to safe and legal abortion by banning abortion after 18 weeks and restricting women’s access to reproductive care.

“An assault on reproductive rights anywhere undermines reproductive rights everywhere,” AG Shapiro said. “We’ve seen these partisan, baseless attempts to subvert well established law time and time again in Pennsylvania and other states – and we’re not standing for it. Women must have control over their own bodies. They deserve the right to access quality, safe reproductive health care free from any interference. And so long as I hold this position, that’s exactly what I’ll fight to preserve.

“Nine Republican members of Pennsylvania’s congressional delegation asked the U.S. Supreme Court just this week to overturn Roe v. Wade and Casey v. Planned Parenthood, which proves that women in America continue to be subject to partisan, narrow-minded opinions.

“If Pennsylvania and other states do not join together to defend the U.S. Constitution in Arkansas and every state where it is threatened, it will represent a generational setback for all women.”

In 2019, the Arkansas state legislature passed several laws designed to restrict access to abortion services. The laws would criminalize abortions performed after 18 weeks and impose other undue burdens on women’s constitutional right to abortion. Plaintiffs argue that Arkansas’ laws would make abortion care either unavailable or less safe for women.

On July 28, 2019, a U.S. District Court temporarily blocked the Arkansas laws restricting abortion care. Arkansas then appealed the decision to the  U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.

In the brief, the coalition argues that the Arkansas laws violate women’s constitutional right to choose to have an abortion before viability, as recognized in Roe v. Wade. The coalition further argues that limiting or eliminating women’s access to safe and legal abortion leads to worse health and socioeconomic outcomes for women.

These outcomes include forcing women to endure negative pregnancy side effects, the limitation of physical activity, restriction from full-time employment, and increased reliance on publicly funded safety-net programs. The brief describes the different ways that states promote women’s health without impeding women’s rights guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution.

In filing today’s brief, Attorney General Shapiro joined a coalition led by California Attorney General Becerra along with the Attorneys General of Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia.

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