Abortion Access in Pennsylvania

This page will provide you with some information about the state of abortion access in Pennsylvania, courtesy of Senator Judy Schwank.

Is abortion legal in Pennsylvania?

Yes, abortion is still legal in Pennsylvania. Current law states that abortion is accessible, however, there are several restrictions to abortion access:

  • Prohibited at 24 weeks gestational age (from last menstrual period).
  • Prohibits the use of state and federal Medical Assistance (MA) Funds for abortion services, unless the pregnancy is a result of reported rape or incest, or abortion is necessary to avert the death of the pregnant person.
  • Mandated counseling from abortion provider that includes information designed to discourage the patient from having an abortion and 24 hour wait before getting an abortion. This waiting period can be waived if health is at risk because of the pregnancy.
  • If under the age of 18, a parent or guardian must give permission to get an abortion or request a judicial bypass to waive the requirement for parental involvement.
  • Requiring a signed notice under penalty from a married woman that she has notified her spouse she is about to undergo an abortion (with exceptions for medical emergencies or if the pregnancy resulted from spousal sexual assault).
What does the reversal of Roe v. Wade mean?

If the Supreme Court decides to overturn Roe v. Wade, there would be no constitutional right to an abortion, and the authority over abortion law goes to the individual states.

Does pa have trigger laws?

You may have heard the term “trigger law” or “trigger ban.”  These are bans that will take effect immediately after Roe v Wade is overturned.

Pennsylvania does not have a “trigger law” in place.

Has legislation been introduced to ban or restrict abortion in Pennsylvania?

Yes, multiple bills have been introduced that would ban or restrict abortion access.

  1. S.B. 378 (Mastriano) H.B. 904 (Borowicz) – Would prohibit the abortion of a fetus if a heartbeat is detected, changing current statutory requirements for an abortion from 24 weeks to 6 weeks gestation. If no fetal heartbeat is detected, an abortion may only be performed if a physician determines an abortion is necessary.
    • StatusB. 378 was referred to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee on March 10, 2021.
    • Status – H.B. 904 received first consideration on the House Floor on May 25, 2021. The bill was tabled for a second time in the House on September 20, 2021. 
  2. S.B. 956 (J.Ward) H.B. 2252 (Oberlander) – Would amend the Pennsylvania Constitution to declare there is no right to an abortion or funding for an abortion.
    • Status – On January 25, 2022, S.B. 956 was reported as committed by the Senate Health and Human Services Committee and received first consideration on the Senate Floor. The bill was laid on the table on April 12, 2022.
    • Status – H.B. 2252 was referred to the House Health Committee on January 20, 2022.
  3. S.B. 152 (J.Ward) – Would prohibit the Department of Health from entering into contracts with or making grants to entities that perform abortions that do not qualify for federal matching funds through Medicaid or that maintain or operate facilities where such abortions are performed, except as required by federal law when such services are provided by Medicaid and by a qualified provider approved by the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services.
    • Status – S.B. 152 was reported as committed by the Senate Health and Human Services Committee and received first consideration on the Senate Floor on January 25, 2022. The bill was removed from the table on April 12, 2022.
  4. S.B. 289 (O’Neal)Would require abortion facilities to publicly post and update inspection information online and provide inspection information to individuals upon request at no cost. Plans of correction must be posted on a facility’s public website within 30 days of receiving notice of a violation or sooner, as directed by the Department of Health.  Facilities must ensure the identities of their patients remain confidential when posting such information.
    • Status – H.B. 289 was referred to the House Health Committee on January 27, 2021.
  5. S.B. 1500 (Klunk) – Would prohibit an abortion for the reason of a prenatal diagnosis of Down Syndrome. The bill would change the penalty of a physician that performs an abortion for this reason, providing for that physician’s medical and surgical licenses to be revoked instead of allowing for suspension or revocation.  A person receiving or attempting to receive an abortion due to the fetus’ sex or prenatal diagnosis of Down Syndrome shall not be guilty of committing, attempting to commit, conspiring to commit or being complicit in committing a prohibited abortion.  A written statement must be provided to the Department of Health by the physician performing the abortion indicating the person did not seek an abortion because of the sex of the fetus or a prenatal diagnosis, test result or indication of Down Syndrome in the fetus.
    • Status – H.B. 1500 passed the House on third consideration on June 8, 2021 by a vote of 120:83. The bill is currently in the Senate, where it received first consideration on June 21, 2021. The bill was removed from the table for a third time on April 4, 2022.
  6. S.B. 1872 (Bonner) – Would require the administration of pain medication to a fetus aborted at more than 12 weeks gestation unless the physician has prior knowledge of the pregnant person’s adverse reaction to pain relief medication or there is insufficient time to administer medication prior to the abortion due to a medical emergency.
    • Status – H.B. 1872 was referred to the House Health Committee on September 16, 2021.
  7. S.B. 21 (Martin) – Would prohibit the abortion of a fetus based on the sex of the fetus and/or a prenatal diagnosis or belief that the fetus has Down Syndrome.
    • Status – S.B. 21 was referred to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee on January 20, 2021.
Other facts about abortion.
  • 1 in 4 women will have had an abortion by the time they turn 45 years old.
  • Abortion is a safe procedure with dramatically less health risks than childbirth.
  • 95% of women who had abortions continued to feel confident about their decision.
  • In 2020, there were 32,123 abortions performed in Pennsylvania.
Abortion by Race in PA
Abortion by Age in PA

Abortion by race and age groups

What is a medication abortion?
  • Medication abortion is a non-surgical abortion where the patient ends their pregnancy by taking a pill or series of pills.
  • Mifepristone, approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2000, is used with another medication called misoprostol to end early pregnancy. Mifepristone is well established in medical literature as a safe alternative to surgical abortion.
  • In 2019, 45% of all abortions provided in Pennsylvania were medical abortions.
How does it work?
  • The regimen of pills can be taken safely at home, a method increasingly used around the world.
  • The protocol approved for use in the United States includes two medications. The first one, mifepristone, blocks a hormone called progesterone that is necessary for a pregnancy to continue. The second, misoprostol, brings on uterine contractions.
  • The combination of these pills causes a complete abortion in more than 99 percent of patients.
What are some common barriers to care?

Although medication abortion is safe and effective, many women have difficulties accessing care. Barriers to safe legal abortion include

  • Money
  • Travel logistics
  • Limited clinics
  • State restrictions

These factors all result in delayed care, negative mental health consequences, and the consideration of unsafe methods to end a pregnancy. Black and Brown communities and low-income earners are disproportionately impacted.