Later this year, the United States Supreme Court will start their deliberation process on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case about Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban that directly challenges the landmark Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade of 1973. There is growing concern among pro-choice advocates, like Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, that Roe could be overturned and set back a half century of reproductive rights progress.
Regardless of what decision the federal court reaches later this year, Pennsylvania officials have continued to take action at the state level. Attorney General Shapiro, for example, has worked to advocate for and protect Pennsylvanians’ reproductive rights, including fighting for access to no-cost birth control. In 2017, Attorney General Shapiro won a nationwide injunction from federal judge Wendy Beetlestone stopping a federal order that eliminated women’s guaranteed access to contraceptive care under the Affordable Care Act. In a statement, Attorney General Shapiro said “women need contraception for their health because contraception is medicine, pure and simple. Women and families rely on the Affordable Care Act’s guarantee to afford contraception.”
He once again challenged the Administration in 2019 when he, along with 20 other state Attorneys General, filed an amicus brief in support of a lawsuit to stop the Trump Administration from rolling back the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that employers provide contraceptive care coverage in their health insurance plans by creating new rules that expanded exemptions to employers based on religious or “moral beliefs”. Attorney General Shapiro has continued his work defending reproductive rights throughout 2020 and 2021, when Pennsylvania’s own lawmakers have attempted to overturn reproductive rights. As he himself expressed: “We’ve seen these partisan, baseless attempts to subvert well established law time and time again in Pennsylvania.”
This consistent advocacy is crucial, especially for women across Pennsylvania like those in Erie County who rely on low to no cost birth control methods. There are only three health centers within the county that offer the full range of birth control methods for the 20,630 women aged 13-44 who are in need of publicly funded contraceptive services. Shapiro has stated: “an assault on reproductive rights anywhere undermines reproductive rights everywhere.”