Abortion Law Still About A Month From Taking Effect With PM-Abortion-States, Bjt
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) _ Pennsylvania’s abortion law is still a month or so from taking effect despite being largely affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court, but a clinic administrator said this morning her center is already fielding calls from worried women.
″We’re getting a lot of calls from people who are concerned, who want to know ‘Do I need my parents’ consent, should I reschedule?,″ Janis Glenn, patient services coordinator at Allentown Women’s Center, said today. ″We’re telling them things are the same for now, we have a little time before the restrictions take effect.″
″We’re just reassuring them the services will be available just as before,″ she said.
The state Health Department on Monday said it has not quite completed the package of materials describing fetal development, risks of the procedure and other information that clinics and hospitals must now give women before they can have an abortion.
The state health department is also revising regulations that will explain how the new law will work, said spokeswoman Kathy Liebler. But she said the law can take effect before those regulations are completed.
In addition, the U.S. District Court must lift the injunction that blocked the law while it was being appealed, said Robert Gentzel, spokesman for the Attorney General’s Office.
Officials said they expect it will be about 30 days before the details are worked out.
Ms. Glenn said that clinic patients booking for weeks in advance, ″we’re making sure we tell the patients we need to be able to get ahold of them because our policies will be adjusting.″
The law says doctors must keep detailed records of each abortion and make the information available to the Health Department, which must prepare an annual report for the Legislature. Patient names will be kept confidential.
Other sections of the law upheld by the Supreme Court on Monday include a 24-hour waiting period between the time a woman gets the informed consent materials and the abortion, and notification of one parent before a girl under 18 can get an abortion. A girl can seek a confidential court hearing to get an exception to the parental notification rule.
The law’s author, state Rep. Stephen Freind, said Monday that he will push for more restrictions before he retires from office in November.
″If there’s the opportunity to save more lives and protect more mothers, then it’s unconscionable not to do it and unconscionable not to do it as quickly as possible,″ Freind said at a news conference.
Gov. Robert P. Casey said he is willing to work with Freind, but only to the extent allowed by the Constitution. Before he signed the law upheld Monday, Casey in 1987 vetoed an earlier version also written by Freind. The governor noted that the court decided Monday against ″a flat ban on abortion.″
Denise Neary, executive director of the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation, said Monday’s decision was ″a very small step forward. ... There’s nothing alarming or frightening about a law that provides women with informed consent and involves parents in a major decision regarding their teen-age daughters.″