Senate Bill 857 advances safe telemedicine that’s aligned with good science. Expanding abortion should never be used as a wedge issue to respond to the COVID-19 healthcare crisis.

Despite the Pennsylvania State Senate and State House passing a safe telemedicine bill, Senate Bill 857, legislation supported by PA hospitals that is aligned with FDA regulations – protecting patient safety and upholding the highest standard of care – Governor Tom Wolf has elected to side with Planned Parenthood and pro-abortion politics with his veto of this bipartisan legislation. 

“When Planned Parenthood wants a veto, Governor Tom Wolf gives it to them every time – no matter the impact on the health and well-being of Pennsylvania citizens,” says Michael Geer, President of the Pennsylvania Family Institute.

Senate Bill 857 is a proper response to the COVID-19 crisis, which would help Pennsylvania by increasing access to safe telemedicine. The legislation includes a requirement to follow the safety guidelines for all drugs on the FDA’s Risk Evaluations and Mitigation Strategies (REMS) list by delivering these drugs in-person in a healthcare facility. The REMS list includes Mifeprex, the abortion pill, because of the health risks it presents to women. 

“If the FDA says a drug isn’t safe to be administered outside of a clinical setting then we shouldn’t endanger the lives and health of Pennsylvanians by allowing it,” writes Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman in a recent op-ed.

By his veto, Governor Wolf is willing to put more women at risk by bucking FDA guidelines in making an exception for abortion. This veto comes in spite of the fact that many in the healthcare system supported the bill, including the Hospital and Healthsystem Association in Pennsylvania (HAP). “HAP supports Senate Bill 857 because of the progress it represents in establishing telemedicine’s rightful place at the forefront of the newly emerging health system of the future.“

Governor Wolf has a history of issuing vetoes on reasonable abortion regulations: the Down Syndrome Protection Act, which would have protected unborn children from being targeted for abortion solely based on a diagnosis of Down syndrome, as well as legislation that would have ended late-term abortions that occur after 20 weeks in pregnancy (current law allows abortion up to 24 weeks, or six months in pregnancy).  

“Governor Wolf cancelled all elective surgeries in Pennsylvania in response to COVID-19, including cancer surgeries and screenings, but kept abortion clinics – performing elective abortions – open,” comments Tom Shaheen, Vice President for Policy at Pennsylvania Family Institute. “Now, once again, Governor Wolf denies Pennsylvanians expanded healthcare unless it allows abortion expansion. It’s incredibly sad that he’s chosen to hold good legislation hostage just to advance his pro-abortion politics.”