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SB 956 - Pennsylvania General Assembly Letter

Posted: May 8th, 2022 @ 3:12pm

May 6, 2022

To:  The Pennsylvania General Assembly

Representing people of faith across Pennsylvania with hundreds of supporters, the PA Religious Coalition for Reproductive Justice is writing in strong opposition to SB 956, a bill that seeks to define the life of a child as beginning at conception and outlaw abortion without regard to the health and wellbeing of the pregnant individual.

Most people agree that children who are born into this world should be wanted and cared for in safe and healthy environments. As people of faith, we believe a pregnant individual has the inherent right to determine whether they want to carry their pregnancy to term without interference from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  This reflects our belief that the Commonwealth is not equipped to address the unique situation of each pregnant individual with the requisite compassion and understanding.

If this bill results in an amendment to the Constitution of Pennsylvania, it appears the Commonwealth will need to investigate each incident where a pregnancy does not end with a viable birth as a potential homicide.  This will mean that women who have miscarriages will be further traumatized and, potentially, penalized; ectopic pregnancies which can be life threatening may go untreated out of fear of prosecution; and some contraceptives approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration may be prohibited.  Even couples seeking to have a child may find existing options such as in vitro fertilization no longer available due to the potential for criminal prosecution. Obviously, these are just a few of the possible consequences of this poorly considered legislation.

Medical experts warn criminalizing abortion will harm public health by increasing maternal and infant mortality and morbidity. Criminal justice experts warn criminalizing abortion will lead to a wave of mass incarceration unseen since the failed war on drugs.  We have already seen an instance where the misguided desire to prosecute has led to violation of a woman’s privacy by disclosure of her medical information.
Black women, low-income pregnant people, and people from marginalized communities will bear the brunt of the immense health and social cost of the baseless fiction that criminalizing abortion ends abortion. They will suffer acute medical and economic harm.  In addition, they are at greatest risk of being surveilled and investigated for miscarriage and other pregnancy outcomes that fall short of a full-term healthy baby – leading to disproportionate incarceration of poor and marginalized populations.  

Ultimately, this attack on an existing constitutional right will lead to immoral forced birthing and a broad array of negative social outcomes.    
We strongly urge you to vote against Senate Bill 956.  


Barbara Pearce
Barbara Pearce, Co-President            

Michele Hamilton
Michele Hamilton, Co-President
Rabbi Audrey Korotkin
Rabbi Audrey Korotkin, Ph.D, Co-Chair

Rev. Dr. Marvin Marsh
Rev. Dr. Marvin Marsh, Co-Founder & Co-Chair

Click here to download a copy of this letter.

The Pennsylvania Religious Coalition for Reproductive Justice, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit and a community partner of  the national Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC).

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