Pittsburgh city council member introduces bills to protect reproductive freedom

PITTSBURGH — It’s a topic of conversation sweeping the nation.

“From here to Harrisburg, there are only two independent abortion providers in Allegheny County and the region of Western Pennsylvania,” said Sydney Etheredge, president of Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania.

Following Friday’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, abortion clinics in neighboring states are shutting down, leading to an influx of calls to the area, as abortion is still legal in the Commonwealth.

“We know bans like this disproportionally harm people of color, people from marginalized communities, lower income and people from rural areas. That is really who we are focusing on,” Etheredge said.

Now, it’s a rush for appointments. While abortion clinics manage the phones, City Council is working to add protections for the future in our state laws.

“I believe it’s so important that we provide as many protections as possible in times like these,” said City Council member Bobby Wilson.

That’s why Wilson introduced three bills to protect reproductive freedom at Tuesday’s council meeting.

The first is if the state law changes to ban abortion, criminal charges will be a low priority to police. The second will make sure that advertising is truthful when it comes from pregnancy crisis centers, and the third will allow doctors to treat and perform abortions on out-of-state patients.

“I think on some level, people think you can get an abortion anywhere you want and that’s really not true. It’s hard, and if you make it harder for providers to provide this safe care, we are just going to lose access entirely, because if there are no providers there is no access,” said Dr. Grace Ferguson.

It’s these protections Planned Parenthood said are needed, as the future is unknown when it comes to abortion access down the line.

“Something we should all be looking at is, will those rights erode, and what do we need to do to protect access to just that core care people need?,” Etheredge said.

While these bills will only impact the city if passed by City Council, Etheredge said there are similar bills the state is working to introduce in Harrisburg.

Download the FREE WPXI News app for breaking news alerts.

Follow Channel 11 News on Facebook and Twitter. | Watch WPXI NOW