Pa. bill would impose 20-week abortion ban, prohibit medically proven method of abortion

April 4, 2016 — Pennsylvania House lawmakers on Friday referred to the House Health Committee a bill (HB 1948) that would impose several abortion restrictions, AP/Lancaster Online reports.

According to AP/Lancaster Online, the committee is expected to vote on the measure on Monday. Committee Chair Matt Baker (R) said the state House plans to vote on the bill soon after.

Bill details

The bill, sponsored by state Rep. Kathy Rapp (R), would ban abortion care after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Pennsylvania currently bans abortion after 24 weeks of pregnancy (Langley, AP/Lancaster Online, 4/2).

According to ABC 27 News/Sentinel, the bill is based on the medically unfounded claim that fetuses can feel pain at 20 weeks of gestation.

In addition, the bill would ban a medically proven method of abortion.

Under the bill, people who violate the restrictions could face third-degree felony charges (ABC 27 News/Sentinel, 4/1).

Gov. likely to veto measure

Jeffrey Sheridan, a spokesperson for Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D), said the governor would veto the legislation if it were passed.

"This legislation is an attack on a woman's right to make her own health decisions, and it even goes so far as to prohibit a woman's right to have an abortion, even in the case of rape or incest," Sheridan said, adding, "This bill is wrong and Gov. Wolf will veto it if it reaches his desk" (AP/Lancaster Online, 4/2).


Sari Stevens, executive director of Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Advocates, said the legislation is a "dangerous, intrusive, and unconstitutional bill that is part of an out-of-touch and coordinated effort to chip away at abortion access." She noted, "This bill is yet another coordinated attempt by those who want to put abortion completely out of reach to pass another law that stands in the way of women and the care they need" (ABC 27 News/Sentinel, 4/1).

Stevens also criticized state lawmakers for rushing to pass the measure. "These are not doctors, and they are putting in the strictest abortion law in the country and moving it within 72 hours, of which 48 hours are a weekend," she said (AP/Lancaster Online, 4/2). She added, "It's absolutely appalling that certain legislators are operating under a cloud of secrecy to rush a vote on this bill without understanding the full impact it will have on real Pennsylvanians and their families" (ABC 27 News/Sentinel, 4/1).

Separately, state Rep. Dan Frankel (D) said the measure is part of "an insidious national effort to chip away at Roe v. Wade," noting that the bill uses "incendiary" language (AP/Lancaster Online, 4/2).