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Pennsylvania state Seantor Lisa Baker during abortion an debate on the Senate floor. (Youtube)

Restricting abortion

Pennsylvania could be next state to ban abortions after 20-weeks

February 10, 2017

Planned Parenthood considers a bill that was passed through the state Senate in Pennsylvania this week to be one of the nation’s most restrictive anti-abortion proposals. The bill suggests a ban on all abortions after 20-weeks, even in the case of rape, incest or tragic fetal anomalies.

If passed, proposed legislation would also outlaw an abortion method known as “dilation and evacuation,” which Planned Parenthood says will ban “one of the safest methods of second trimester abortions, putting women at risk and taking crucial decisions about their medical care out of the hands of their trusted medical providers.”

While proponents of the bill argue that a fetus can feel pain by 20 weeks — a medically contentious claim — opponents worry that it could pave the way for a reversal of Roe v. Wade, the landmark case in which the Supreme Court legalized abortion in 1973. Planned Parenthood further argue that the bill has been pushed through the Senate far too quickly, bypassing any public hearings in which medical experts could have been given the opportunity to testify.

The fate of the bill remains uncertain. Democrat Governor Tom Wolf has pledged he will veto the legislation and, although the Republican-controlled legislature has a veto-proof majority, the Senate was, on Wednesday, two votes short of the number it would need to override a veto. This was in thanks to the opposition of several Republican senators, including Senator Lisa Baker. Speaking on the Senate floor she shared her own painful experience of having given birth to a stillborn daughter who was diagnosed with a rare genetic disease “well after the 20-week threshold”.

“My argument today is not one simply of political or personal philosophy. Rather it comes from a deeply painful experience,” Baker said. “Nothing prepares a family, a father or a mother to hear the words: ‘Your baby’s diagnosis is incompatible with life.’”

“I can’t help but think of the women who receive this same devastating news,” she continued. “This is not a matter to be decided based on misperception. Efforts to legislate and criminalize the practice of medicine set a dangerous precedent.” Watch her remarks below.

The 32-18 backed bill will now advance to the House, which approved a similar bill last year. If passed the bill would signal another victory for anti-choice advocates, who were on a roll last year. In 2016, some 30 laws in 14 states were passed which made it more difficult for women to access abortions. These included: banning the most common method of second-trimester abortions (as this bill in Pennsylvania proposes doing); increasing waiting times for abortions; introducing measures to ban some or all types of abortions; and criminalizing the abortion of fetuses diagnosed with Down syndrome.

And 2016 was not the first year in which major curbs were placed on women’s reproductive rights. One quarter of all abortion restrictions enacted since Roe v. Wade have been passed in the last five years alone. And the assault on reproductive rights is not limited to state-level government. With the reinstatement of the Mexico City Policy, which bans U.S. funding from going to family planning organizations abroad, and the fact Vice President Mike Pence became the highest ranking White House official ever to speak at the annual March for Life, it seems the Trump administration is poised to continue the trend toward clamping down on abortion rights.

Read the full story at the The Huffington Post.


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