HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — A bill to place new restrictions on abortion in Pennsylvania is poised for final vote in the state House next week after members on Wednesday voted down a Democrat-led effort to postpone the proposal for two months.
The House voted 114-73 to defeat an effort to delay consideration of the bill that would prohibit elective abortions after 20 weeks. Pennsylvania law currently limits elective abortions to the first 24 weeks of pregnancy.
It also would criminalize procedures that cause the deaths of fetuses by removing their body parts.
The proposal has wide support within the Republican caucus and from a small slice of the Democratic membership. Ten Republicans joined most Democrats in trying to delay the bill until June 15, while 11 Democrats voted with the Republican majority.
In floor debate, several Democrats argued the measure on a highly divisive subject was being jammed through with little notice and without input from medical and legal experts. Planned Parenthood said the bill would create the nation’s most restrictive abortion law.
“There is no hearing, no ability to talk about this legislation with the stakeholders who want to weigh in and give their medical and professional advice, and we want to shut our ears to that,” said Rep. Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny.
Rep. Steve Santarsiero, D-Bucks, said the bill could jeopardize the health of women “and push them back into dark alleys.”
“We deserve a deliberative discussion of this bill, and we are not having it,” Santarsiero said.
The sponsor, Rep. Kathy Rapp, R-Warren, said the proposed changes to the Abortion Control Act have been in the works for more than a year. The bill has attracted more than 100 sponsors, and no one has proposed an amendment, she noted.
“The opposition had plenty of time to come up with amendments, and certainly will have plenty of time on Monday to debate the facts of the bill,” Rapp said. “Yes, it does affect many lives. The lives that it affects the most are the lives of the unborn children.”
Rep. Leanne Krueger-Braneky, D-Delaware, urged the House to slow down the process.
“I fear that this bill is dooming women to carry stillborn children, and I think that a bill this restrictive only deserves a public hearing,” Krueger-Braneky said.
Majority Leader Dave Reed, R-Indiana, said it is an important public policy issue that deserves to have its day.
If the bill passes the House it will go to the Senate for consideration. Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf has vowed to veto it.
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