National Partnership for Women & Families

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From the desk of ... Debra L. Ness

Pennsylvania's Women's Health Agenda

At a time when women all across this country face discrimination in the workplace and need greater access to reproductive health care, it was encouraging to see what happened in Pennsylvania this week. A broad coalition of Pennsylvania legislators introduced the 2015 Pennsylvania Agenda for Women’s Health, a collection of bills that demonstrates they understand what women and families need.

The Pennsylvania Agenda for Women’s Health would help more than six million women by:

  • Strengthening the relationship between a woman and her health care provider by getting politicians out of exam rooms and allowing health care providers, including abortion providers, to give information and care that is medically accurate so they can practice medicine in accordance with evidence-based standards;
  • Requiring workplace accommodations for pregnant women, such as permission to sit periodically, the ability to carry a water bottle, help lifting heavy objects and similar accommodations;
  • Requiring employers to provide time and clean space for employees who are nursing mothers;
  • Clarifying and updating the legal standards for equal pay lawsuits by reinforcing when employers can pay different wages based on education, training or experience to make sure decisions aren’t made based on gender; and strengthening protections for employees attempting to sue an employer. This bill would also prohibit wage secrecy policies, protecting employees who have inquired about, discussed or disclosed wage information;
  • Establishing a Task Force on Women Veterans’ Health Care in Pennsylvania to study the health issues facing women veterans and make recommendations to address gaps in care; and
  • Addressing violence and intimidation of abortion providers and women seeking abortion care.

If the bills that make up the Pennsylvania Women’s Health Agenda become law, they would help women achieve optimal health and strengthen their ability to thrive wherever they work.

Pennsylvania’s Agenda also provides a strong model for other states striving to ensure women have access to quality, patient-centered, comprehensive reproductive health care without barriers; promote fairness in the workplace; and protect the relationship between patients and their health care providers.

We commend the many Pennsylvania advocates and policymakers who have supported this legislation and encourage Pennsylvania legislators to pass it promptly. In doing so, they will make Pennsylvania a model state that supports women’s health, economic security and equality. And here at the National Partnership, we will continue fighting to advance policies that protect and support women and families, in Pennsylvania and in every state.


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