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Philadelphia city website omits references to mothers, calls abortion a 'human right'

The Love sculpture is a famous monument by Robert Indiana located at JFK Plaza in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
The Love sculpture is a famous monument by Robert Indiana located at JFK Plaza in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. | iStock/Olga Kaya

Abortion is not only "healthcare" but "a human right," so says the city of Philadelphia.

The official website for the city of Philadelphia published a pro-abortion page on Nov. 2 that includes the use of gender-neutral language to suggest that men can get pregnant.

The page on Phila.gov titled "Philadelphians have access to safe, legal abortion services" tells residents that abortion is still legal in the state after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and offers resources for "people who want to prevent unplanned pregnancies or need an abortion or counseling support."

In its "bottom line," the website states that "most Americans" support keeping abortion legal, citing Pew Research data finding that 61% of Americans think abortion should be legal in all or most cases. However, a recent Gallup poll found 51% of Americans say abortion should be permitted only under certain circumstances.

The page — which features the official City of Philadelphia logo and identifies itself at the top of the page as the "official website of the City of Philadelphia government" — links abortion bans to "inequality" and claims that both in-clinic surgical abortions and DIY induced miscarriages via abortion pills as "very safe."

"Abortion is healthcare and access to safe abortion is a human right," the page states.

In a statement Friday, a Philadelphia city spokesperson told The Christian Post the Phila.gov site reflects the policy of the city’s health department, which “regularly uses the term ‘pregnant people’ when referring to people who are pregnant.”

City spokesperson Sarah Peterson told CP Philadelphia “has long believed, and has stated publicly, that abortion is health care and access to safe abortion services is a human right."

The website further claims that "significant data" show that abortion bans not only "do not stop abortions," but also "have a negative impact on the health of pregnant people."

It also references what it describes as disproportionately adverse effects of abortion bans on black "pregnant people" and links to a flier about the "Harms of Denying a Woman a Wanted Abortion," which states, among other things, that "giving birth is connected to more serious health problems than having an abortion."

While avoiding any explicit reference to mothers or women, the page repeatedly uses the word "maternal" to describe certain conditions and impacts related to pregnancy. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word "maternal" as "of, relating to, belonging to, or characteristic of a mother."

The city website also advocated for abortion for "abused people" as a means of seeing a "reduction in physical violence" or abuse from a "violent partner."

There's also a link to the Abortion Liberation Fund (ALF-PA), which helps residents get financial support and information to obtain an abortion. The ALF offers its vision "for Philadelphia and surrounding counties where abortion liberation and other forms of reproductive freedom are normalized and celebrated. 

A statement on the ALF-PA website calls for "people who seek abortions" to be "free from shame, self-blame or stigma" and pledges to work toward a future in which "information about all types of abortion care is framed positively and abortion care is easy for anyone to access."

In 2022, the city of Philadelphia gave ALF-PA $500,000 in "unprecedented" funding for "emergency financial assistance to people seeking an abortion."

An Axios report from last year found Pennsylvania's abortion rate is slightly higher than the national average even though 85% of all counties statewide, at least as of 2017, do not have clinics offering abortion services.

The apparent public endorsement of abortion by the city of Philadelphia comes amid what appears to be mounting Democratic voter backlash against the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade in June 2022. 

Voters in Ohio approved a state constitutional amendment Tuesday to make abortion a constitutional right. Ohio became the seventh state to take similar measures following the Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization decision.

Democrats in Virginia, meanwhile, gained control of both chambers of the state Legislature, likely defeating Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin's plans to advance more Republican agenda items, including a 15-week abortion ban.

Democrats maintained a majority in the Senate and flipped the House of Delegates, holding slight majorities in both chambers.

"Today, Democrats won in Virginia and protected reproductive freedom," Vice President Kamala Harris tweeted on Tuesday evening. "But make no mistake: Abortion and so many other fundamental freedoms are going to be on the ballot in 2024. That's why we need you to join our campaign."

In Pennsylvania, voters elected a Democrat to the state's open Supreme Court as Democrats pushed abortion as a significant campaign issue. 

Ian M. Giatti is a reporter for The Christian Post and the author of BACKWARDS DAD: a children's book for grownups. He can be reached at: ian.giatti@christianpost.com.

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