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PA Legislature Passes Disastrous “TRAP" Law

On December 14, 2011, after a raging legislative fight over women’s abortion care that lasted most of the past year, the Pennsylvania General Assembly passed Senate Bill 732 and sent it to Governor Corbett for his signature or veto.  Unfortunately, the Governor signed SB 732 into law on December 22.

SB 732 requires safe, accessible abortion providers to comply with the burdensome and costly regulations now reserved for ambulatory surgical facilities, even though abortion is much safer and simpler than surgeries commonly conducted in ambulatory surgical centers. 

Known as “TRAP laws,” (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers), similar measures have been enacted in several states and are a tactic recommended by the National Right to Life Committee for closing down women’s clinics. Every medical and public health organization in Pennsylvania that has weighed in on the matter, including the unquestioned medical authority, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, opposes SB 732.

If SB 732 is allowed to take effect, most or all of the 20 existing freestanding clinics in Pennsylvania may have to stop offering abortion care temporarily, while they hire architects and contractors to transform their small clinics into sophisticated medical facilities; or they may close permanently, if they determine that their costs of making the required upgrades are prohibitive (particularly in light of the unavailability of public funding for abortion care). Instead of attending to the 37,000 Pennsylvania women who rely on them for safe care each year, providers will have to install hospital-grade elevators, acquire parking spaces and covered entryways, install specialized HVAC systems, double or triple the size of their procedure rooms, and rip up their flooring and install new flooring, among many other unnecessary and costly physical plant specifications.

Despite the passage and signing of SB 732 by Governor Corbett, the Women’s Law Project is busily at work on a legal strategy. 

For more information:

To learn more about this act and its consequences for women and reproductive rights in the state of Pennsylvania, visit our blog (links below).

What Does SB 732 Do?

  • This bill will increase the financial hurdles to abortion care for patients.  Women will not be able to afford safe abortion care and may seek out a substandard illegal provider or be forced to delay their abortions while they try to raise money to pay for higher-cost procedures. The increased costs of complying with these bills will be passed along to patients.  Many patients struggle to pay $350 for an early abortion procedure. With increased regulation and increased fees, the cost may double and therefore become inaccessible to many women.
  • Poor women and rural women will have even less access to safe abortion care.  Only 22% of PA counties have an abortion provider. The enactment of either bill would force some of these providers to close. Women who need abortions will then leave the state where Pennsylvania can no longer regulate their safety.
  • Abortion providers are already well-regulated.  Current law provides for required
    equipment and medical supplies, hospital transfer agreements for emergency services, equipment required for anesthesia, clinical staff licensing requirements, mandatory counseling and informed consent requirements, laboratory and pathology requirements, required blood tests specific to abortion care, extensive reporting requirements for each abortion, parental consent requirements, abortion facility requirements, and complications reporting.  Women don’t need more regulations.  They need accessible care and better enforcement of existing regulations.

Information about Abortion Regulation in Pennsylvania.