HARRISBURG — The president of Planned Parenthood pointed to the recent election of Gov. Tom Wolf as a good sign for advocates for women’s reproductive choice, calling Mr. Wolf “the first governor in the history of the country who was also a former Planned Parenthood clinic escort.”
Speaking Friday evening in Harrisburg, Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, was speaking at the Pennsylvania Progressive Summit in Harrisburg, a gathering of left-leaning activists and elected officials.
“It’s pretty darn exciting to see a state where you actually bucked the national trend,” she said to the crowd, referring to the November victory of Democrat Mr. Wolf over Republican incumbent Tom Corbett. Nationally, it was one of the few positives for Democrats electorally in 2014, as a number of other Republican governors were re-elected and Republicans took control of the U.S. Senate.
Mr. Corbett did not endear himself to women’s health groups during his time in office. In 2013, he signed a law that prohibits women from buying insurance coverage for abortion through the Affordable Care Act marketplace, and in 2011, he signed a law that added new regulatory burdens for abortion clinics in the state.
Abortion rights and women’s groups also frequently called attention to Mr. Corbett’s comments about a proposed ultrasound bill that if women didn't like it, they “just have to close your eyes.” Mr. Corbett later said his remarks were misinterpreted and were not intended to show support for the legislation.
“I was commenting on the bill from a practical standpoint: Did that bill really do anything?” he later said. “Think about it. To the proponents of the bill: You can pass that, but if a woman doesn't want to pay attention to it, she doesn't have to. That’s what I’m saying, this is really kind of a silly bill, without trying to offend them. So I ended up offending women. But I really wasn't trying to offend anyone. I was trying to” — he made a drilling sound — “right down the middle.”
Although Mr. Wolf won the governor’s mansion in November, Republicans still control the state House and state Senate.
Ms. Richards said she is hopeful a women’s health-related package of bills could still advance this legislative session, which includes items such as ensuring workplace accommodations for pregnant women, sanitary conditions for nursing mothers in the workplace, equal pay legislation, and increased eligibility for breast and cervical cancer screenings.
Kate Giammarise: firstname.lastname@example.org, 717-787-4254 or on Twitter @KateGiammarise.