If You Don’t Support Women’s Right in 2017, Who Will?

We have 22 days to prepare, and no time to mince words: The President-elect has promised to implement an ideologically driven, anti-evidence, misogynist agenda by attacking women’s access to healthcare and attempting to criminalize almost all abortion.

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The Women’s Law Project rallied with allies from Pennsylvania outside the Supreme Court during Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt arguments on March 2.

These threats are based on a demonstratively false premise that criminalizing abortion “ends abortion,” when in fact, research and data show us that criminalizing abortion doesn’t affect the abortion rate. Criminalizing abortion does however increase the rate of preventable injury and maternal mortality, with the consequences disproportionately suffered by low-income women—the very same women most at risk for losing access to birth control if the President-elect successfully follows through on threats to defund Planned Parenthood and dismantle the Affordable Care Act.

Meanwhile, the new composition of the Pennsylvania Legislature means that we cannot count on our state lawmakers to protect Pennsylvania women and families.

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To be sure, we have pro-choice, pro-evidence champions for women’s health in the state Legislature, and we will do everything in our power to preserve and protect the rights we have already have while forging ahead closer to legal equality for women, despite the opposition.

As founding members of the Pennsylvania Campaign for Women’s Health, we will continue to call for evidence-based health policies and regulations, and fight against government interference into the doctor-patient relationship, and for economic policies that support real family values.

We will continue to provide expert legal counsel to abortion providers in Pennsylvania in order to keep their doors open for the women and families that rely on them, as we have since the 1970s.

As a non-profit organization and the only public interest legal organization in Pennsylvania devoted to protecting and advancing the rights of women, we can’t do this work without your help.

Please consider making a one-time donation, or better yet, become a sustaining supporter of the Women’s Law Project.

If you have donated before, we thank you. Here are just a few highlights of the work we were able to accomplish this year thanks to your support:

U.S. Supreme Court Victory

Texas officials peddled a false narrative about a Pennsylvania tragedy in order to justify passing abortion restrictions that endangered the lives of women in Texas, so it was crucial for the U.S. Supreme Court Justices to hear directly from Pennsylvania abortion providers as they considered the constitutionality of said laws in the landmark reproductive rights case Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt. We worked with ten Pennsylvania-based abortion providers and filed an influential amicus curiae brief on their behalf, directly contradicting claims of Texas officials. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg cited our brief in her powerful concurrence that affirmed the biggest reproductive rights victory at the Supreme Court of the United States in decades.

Defending Abortion Providers & Patients amid Rising Harassment & Violence

In the interest of protecting both abortion patients and providers in the wake of the murder of three people at a Planned Parenthood in Colorado and a documented rise in targeted harassment of abortion providers, we continue to help defend “buffer zones” in Harrisburg and Pittsburgh, which we believe are the only two statutory buffer zones currently in place across the country. We also assisted in drafting state legislation to protect abortion providers and patients from harassment and violence across Pennsylvania.

Challenging Gender Discrimination in Sports

We challenged gender discrimination in college sports. WLP staff spoke out about “ghost athletes” and other creative ways school administrators sometimes attempt to deceitfully appear to comply with Title IX.

We Helped Beat Back a Dangerous Abortion Ban

In fierce alliance with allies across the state, we helped beat back a fast-tracked abortion ban that represented a dangerous and unconstitutional government interference into the doctor-patient relationship, and would have forced doctors to violate the Hippocratic Oath to do no harm. House Bill 1948 was a double abortion ban that would have criminalized all abortion in Pennsylvania after 19 weeks and punished doctors for using D&E, dilation and evacuation, a common and safe abortion method. (Prime sponsor Rep. Kathy Rapp has already indicated she will re-introduce a version of this abortion ban in 2017.)

Improving Police Response to Sexual Assault

WLP’s ground-breaking work in Philadelphia on improving sexual assault investigations by police was presented at a roundtable on gender bias in policing sponsored by the Department of Justice Office of Violence Against Women, and at a national conference on promising practices presented by the Police Executive Research Forum.  WLP also served as a consultant to the Department of Justice Office of Civil Rights in its investigation of police practice in Baltimore.

Exploring Equal Pay Solutions for Black Women

In August, the Women’s Law Project co-hosted a roundtable on the subject of equal pay for Black women at City Hall in Philadelphia with Representative Donna Bullock, Representative Brian Sims, and community stakeholders. The Women’s Law Project represents Pennsylvania in the national Equal Pay Today! Campaign, which seeks to close the gender pay gaps by addressing pay discrimination, pregnancy discrimination, wage theft, minimum wage, and occupational segregation.

Equal Pay Legislation Passed in Philadelphia

The Women’s Law Project submitted written testimony and testified in person in support of legislation prohibiting Philadelphia-based employers from asking applicants about prior history during job interviews. By removing prior wages from the conversation, this bill enables women to be paid based on objective criteria, like education and experience, and not be penalized by lower earnings in a previous job. The bill passed unanimously.

In a recent article in The Guardian about a post-election surge in donations to national social justice organizations, WLP Executive Director Carol Tracy urged people who care about equality to also support local and state organizations.

“State-based organizations are where all the action is,” said Tracy. “Everything is local in the end, and if it’s not working at that level then this election result is what we end up with.”

The Women’s Law Project is the only public interest law center in Pennsylvania devoted to advancing the rights of women and girls.

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