Abortion providers sue to overturn Pa. ban on Medicaid funds

Tony Romeo
January 16, 2019 - 3:27 pm
Susan Frietsche (center) speaks at the Capitol during a Women's Law Project news conference.

Tony Romeo/KYW Newsradio

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (KYW Newsradio) — Pennsylvania abortion providers have sued the commonwealth, seeking to overturn the ban on state dollars for abortions.

Susan Frietsche, senior staff attorney for the Women’s Law Project, said abortion rights advocates have for a long time looked for an opportunity to revisit a 1985 Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling — Fischer v. the Department of Public Welfare — that upheld a ban on state Medicaid dollars for most abortions. 

Frietsche said now is the time to revisit the ruling, as most litigation seeking to increase access to abortion has been happening at the federal level.

"Now, we are looking at the federal court system with a little more caution these days," she said. "That led us to look more closely at what we might be able to achieve through the state courts."

Frietsche noted abortion rights advocates have experienced success in other states that have equal rights amendments in their respective constitutions, as Pennsylvania does. Currently, 16 other states allow for Medicaid coverage of abortions.