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Have a miscarriage in a hospital? PA Republicans are ready to charge you for it

By MAUREEN E. MADDEN
Posted 7/7/21

Recently, members of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives voted on a slew of anti-abortion bills that would harm women all over the state. One bill, H.B. 118, prime sponsored by Rep. Francis …

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my view

Have a miscarriage in a hospital? PA Republicans are ready to charge you for it

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Recently, members of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives voted on a slew of anti-abortion bills that would harm women all over the state. One bill, H.B. 118, prime sponsored by Rep. Francis Ryan (R-Lebanon), would create an unnecessary, draconian requirement for hospitals and clinics to make funeral arrangements for fetal remains at any stage of pregnancy. Not only does this bill impose extra costs on health care facilities and women who do not wish to use the disposition arrangements made by these facilities, but it also compromises patient privacy by essentially creating a state database of miscarriages and abortions. The bill shames and penalizes women for miscarrying and exercising their right to choose.

House Democratic female representatives provided rebuttal testimony on the bill, capturing their stories of loss, trauma and difficult decisions.

I was one of these women. I shared my experience birthing what would have been my only child, who was stillborn, with my husband, Roy. I could not imagine what it would have been like if hospital staff entered the birthing room afterward, asking questions about fetal remains and disposition. The proposed legislation will traumatize women across the state who are already facing incredibly difficult circumstances.

State Rep. Melissa Shusterman (D-Chester) stated that H.B. 118 is an “incredibly invasive and misguided mandate... It threatens the dignity and the privacy of anyone who has or will experience a miscarriage in this commonwealth,” although Republicans deny the presence of a mandate within the bill language.

According to ACLU Pennsylvania, H.B. 118 would require a hospital or clinic to arrange for the burial or cremation of all medical tissue—at any gestational age—following any spontaneous or induced termination of a pregnancy, such as miscarriage, abortion, or in vitro embryo reduction, that occurs within a healthcare facility. A healthcare facility that violates this act would be fined between $50 and $300 or a person charged with not fulfilling these duties may be imprisoned in county jail for up to 30 days.

Women in Pennsylvania are simply unwilling to go back in time. H.B. 118 creates difficult and confusing regulations for clinics and hospitals to adhere to, all of which create barriers to reproductive health care. Further, it effectively codifies additional emotional and physical turmoil for women as punishment for having a stillbirth or miscarriage, which is cruel and inhumane. The level of negative impact this legislation will cause to Pennsylvania women is unquantifiable and cannot be tolerated.

Maureen Madden (D-Monroe) is a Democratic member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, serving District 115 since 2017.

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