Update: On January 29, 2024, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court held that abortion providers had standing to challenge the state’s ban on Medicaid coverage for abortion, allowing the case to go forward. The court concluded that the coverage ban was a sex-based classification subject to strict scrutiny under the state’s Equal Rights Amendment, overruling its own prior precedent upholding the coverage ban under the Pennsylvania constitution.

On October 13, 2021, the National Women’s Law Center, along with local counsel Jim Davy at All Rise Trial and Appellate, filed an amicus brief to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania in support of Pennsylvania abortion providers in Allegheny Reproductive Health Center v. Pennsylvania Department of Human Services. In this case, the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court ruled that abortion providers lack standing to challenge the state’s ban on Medicaid coverage for abortion care under the state’s Equal Rights Amendment. The lower court explained that it could “ascertain no reason” why abortion patients eligible for Medicaid were unable to assert constitutional claims on their own behalf.

Our amicus brief explains that, in order to assert their rights in court, abortion patients would have to forgo keeping their abortion decision private and delay seeking abortion care. Patients would risk harassment, stigma, and violence, and they would need to expend resources—money, vacation days, and child care—that they more urgently need to use to access abortion. Further, these patients have no guarantee that they will receive emergency judicial relief before their pregnancy surpasses the state’s gestational limit. We argue that patients cannot be expected to risk their ability to obtain the care they need, their health and economic security, and their safety, with no guarantee of any reward, when abortion providers are much better suited to assert these claims on their patients’ behalf.