Controversial Abortion Bill Passes Senate Committee
A controversial bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks – instead of the current 24 – just passed a Senate Judiciary Committee, despite Governor Tom Wolf’s promises to veto the bill if it were to reach his desk.
House Bill 1948 passed the committee yesterday in a 9-5 vote during a rare July session. All Republicans voted yes, and all Democrats voted no.
In addition to the ban on abortions after 20 weeks, the proposed legislation calls for restrictions on the dilation and evacuation abortion procedure, through which the fetus is extracted using tools. The bill’s sponsor, Representative Kathy Rapp, refers to the dilation and evacuation procedure as “dismemberment abortion,” as fetuses are taken apart in the process.
It is the most common second-trimester abortion technique, according to Planned Parenthood. If the bill were passed, the procedure could be carried out only if the mother were at risk of death or grave injury.
“This is the same procedure that is used to complete a miscarriage,” The Women’s Law Project wrote in June statement regarding H.B. 1948. “Some doctors caring for pregnant women experiencing sudden or severe fetal complications would be forced to abandon patients in desperate need of care.”
Only one woman, Senator Lisa Boscola, voted on the committee. She voted against the bill.
The fast-tracked bill passed in the House last month in a 132-65 vote. The full Senate could consider it sometime this year. Pennsylvania would join 15 other states that restrict abortions after 20 weeks if the bill were passed, according to the Guttmacher Institute.
Two weeks ago, the Supreme Court overturned a 2013 Texas law that required abortion clinics in the state to meet the standards for ambulatory surgical centers.
In its statement, the Women’s Law Project said that, if enacted, House Bill 1948 would “inflict even greater harm on the health of Pennsylvania women.”
Wolf has called H.B. 1948 “a step backwards for women and for Pennsylvania.”
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