HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Efforts to update Pennsylvania’s abortion law made the first step forward on Tuesday, May 25 with the passing of three pro-life bills.
Under the leadership of State Representative Kathy Rapp (R-Warren), the PA House Health Committee passed the Heartbeat Bill (House Bill 904), the Unborn Child Dignity Act (House Bill 118) and the Down Syndrome Protection Act (House Bill 1500).
“Each of these pro-life bills helps to recognize the humanity of the unborn child,” Alexis Stefani, Communications and Policy Officer for Pennsylvania Family Institute, said.
The Heartbeat Bill would prohibit any abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected. The current state law permits abortion as far as six months or 24 weeks in pregnancy. Under the new law, a physician would have to determine if a fetal heartbeat is present before performing an abortion.
At the moment, the Heartbeat Bill has over 50 co-sponsors in the PA House of Representatives. Tuesday’s vote by the committee is the first time the Heartbeat Bill has advanced in Pennsylvania.
“It’s far past time for Pennsylvania to improve our laws on abortion,” retired Judge Cheryl Allen with Pennsylvania Family Institute said. “Our state still allows abortion up to six months in pregnancy and selective abortions for a diagnosis of Down syndrome. This must change.”
Down Syndrome Protection Act
The Down Syndrome Protection Act would protect an unborn child from being aborted due to a prenatal diagnosis of possible Down syndrome.
Unborn Child Dignity Act
The Unborn Child Dignity Act, sponsored by Rep. Frank Ryan (R) would require healthcare facilities to provide parents the option of burial or cremation after the death of the unborn child rather than be treated as “medical hazardous waste,” according to the Pennsylvania Family Institute.
“The bill is not intended to be burdensome to health care facilities or parents. It merely gives parents the right to decide the final disposition of their unborn child’s remains,” Ryan said.
The House Health Committee passed the Unborn Child Dignity Act on Thursday, May 27. The legislation will now go to the full House for consideration.
“Doctors and medical professionals are pressuring families to abort their baby under a diagnosis of Down syndrome,” Stefani said. “This eugenics practice of aborting babies because they may have a disability needs to end here in Pennsylvania.”
The PA House of Representatives voted on June 9, to advance the Unborn Child Dignity Act.
Governor Tom Wolf Responds
On Tuesday, May 25, Governor Wolf reacted to the proposed “anti-choice legislation.” According to Wolf, he has fought hard against right-wing attempts to limit an individual’s right to make their own health care decisions by using his pen to veto anti-choice bills the General Assembly has passed.
“Once again, members are working to pass anti-choice legislation that would undermine the doctor-patient relationship and limit an individual’s right to decide what happens to their body — including re-running appalling bills that I have vetoed in the past,” Governor Wolf said.
According to Governor Wolf, he stands firm in his commitment and support of reproductive rights.
“While members of the legislature continue to play politics around health choices, I will not let the commonwealth go backwards on reproductive rights or access to health care,” Governor Wolf said. “I will veto any anti-choice legislation that lands on my desk.”