Pennsylvania Bill Wants To Limit Abortions Slightly, Democrats Freak Out

REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein - RTSXPL6

Jordan Fox Reporting Intern
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An abortion bill in Pennsylvania will make it illegal to have an abortion after 20 weeks, only a slight change from current law that makes an abortion illegal after 24 weeks, but Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf made it clear he will not let this legislation pass, despite support in both the state House and Senate.

Monday, the state Senate Judiciary Committee voted to fast-track the bill, and the full Senate could hear the bill within the next few days.

Senate Bill 3 is similar to a bill introduced just last year that passed 140-58 in the state House of Representatives but was never voted on in the Senate. If it had passed, Wolf said he would veto it because it “would be a step back for women,” LancasterOnline reports.

Abortions are in decline in Pennsylvania, with more than a 50 percent drop from 1980 to 2014, according to Health Department records. Additionally, “Nearly 93 percent of those 2014 abortions occurred in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy and none occurred later than the 23rd week,” LancasterOnline reported, meaning only “About 5 percent of all abortions used the procedure the bill would outlaw.”

State Republicans are trying again to amend the law because, “It’s important to note that anesthesia is used in fetal surgeries for both mother and child. Why? Significant evidence now shows that by 20 weeks of development, unborn children have the capacity to feel pain,” Republican Reps. Kathy Rapp, Bryan Barbin and Bryan Cutler said in a statement in support of the House bill last year. They also said that the United States is one of only six countries that allow “elective abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy” — and North Korea is one of those other countries.

Supporters of the bill argue that ethical arguments have to keep up with technology that proves how developed fetuses really are even in the early stages of pregnancy.

The bill would also prohibit dismemberment abortion, or “The act of knowingly and purposefully causing the death of an unborn child by means of dismembering the unborn child and extracting the unborn child one piece at a time from the uterus through the use of clamps, grasping forceps, tongs, scissors or similar instruments.”

Still, the legislation makes exceptions for abortions after 20 weeks if the mother is in serious danger of death or major health damage.

When the bill was passed in the state House last year, Planned Parenthood issued a statement that called the legislation “the most extreme restrictions on abortion in the country,” and the authors and supporters of it “hypocritical politicians who do not care about the health and safety of these women but care only about putting safe and legal abortion completely out of reach.”

However, research shows that the majority of Americans do not support late-term abortions. Supporters agree that the law should be updated because, “hospitals are saving babies who are born at 20 weeks, while our abortion clinics are still dismembering and killing babies at that same stage,” according to the statement.

Currently, 16 states ban abortions after about 20 weeks, two states ban abortions in the third trimester and 18 states ban them at viability, or when the baby can survive outside of the womb, according to the Guttmacher Institute.