HARRISBURG – A committee of the state House of Representatives voted today to pass legislation to implement new restrictions on women’s access to abortion. The bill reduces the time frame in which a woman can have an abortion from the current 24 weeks of pregnancy to 20 weeks and bans a procedure that is commonly used for abortions during the second trimester.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania called the restrictions “severe and significant” and noted that such bans have consistently failed when challenged in federal court.
“Women who consider having an abortion need to have all medically appropriate options available to them,” said Reggie Shuford, executive director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania. “This committee is advancing an extremist agenda that undermines the fundamental rights of women in the commonwealth.”
Senate Bill 3 passed the state Senate on February 8 without a hearing, and the House Health Committee took the same approach in passing the bill today.
Opponents of bans like those in SB 3 include the Pennsylvania Medical Society and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. The ACLU of Pennsylvania noted that the U.S. Supreme Court has consistently ruled that states may not ban abortion prior to viability and may not impose an undue burden on women. SB 3 would do both.
“If the House or Senate had held a hearing, they would have learned more about healthcare and about Supreme Court precedent on this issue,” said Elizabeth Randol, legislative director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania. “Unfortunately, lawmaking based on facts is the exception and not the rule when it comes to abortion.”
The legislation now heads to the full House for consideration. Governor Tom Wolf has vowed to veto the bill.