Sep 15, 2022 - News

Philadelphia City Council members move to protect abortion rights

Illustration of Philadelphia City Hall with lines radiating from it.
Photo illustration: Allie Carl/Axios. Photo: BasSlabbers/Getty Images

Abortion access protections and affordable housing are among the top priorities of City Council as it regroups today after a summer recess.

What's happening: Councilmembers are kicking off their first legislative session since June with only 13 of its 17 members remaining.

  • Four Democratic legislators resigned in recent weeks, three of which have launched mayoral bids for the 2023 May primary.

The latest: A trio of councilmembers are expected to put forward a legislative package today they say will bolster abortion rights and protect both patients and providers in the city.

  • Helen Gym, Jamie Gauthier and Kendra Brooks are introducing the bills.

The proposed package would:

  • Bar anyone from voluntarily sharing information related to people seeking or providing reproductive care in the city for the purposes of prosecution or civil lawsuits.
  • Update Philly's anti-discrimination laws to protect reproductive health decisions.

Another proposal tied to the package would aim to blunt so-called "vigilante lawsuits" in other states against out-of-state residents seeking abortions here by allowing patients and providers to counter-sue.

The big picture: An influx of out-of-state patients are expected to seek abortions in Pennsylvania following the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade in June.

What else: City Council President Darrell Clarke is expected to advance his $400 million Neighborhood Preservation Initiative through the fall, spokesperson Joe Grace told Axios. The effort aims to preserve and build affordable housing and invest in commercial corridors.

  • Next steps include removing alley trees across the city — "a bane to so many neighborhoods," Grace said.

What to watch: Voters in Districts 7 and 9 will fill those vacant City Council seats in a special election on Nov. 8.

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