More women are going outside of Indiana to get an abortion than in the past, according to state and federal health data. Here are the reasons why. Dwight Adams, email@example.com
Thousands of supporters roared with boos as President Trump told them Democrats support late-term abortions “right up to the moment of birth.”
It was one of many lines the president used to energize his base Tuesday night during a “Keep America Great” campaign rally in Hershey.
After leveling other attacks against Democrats, Trump issued a dire warning some 11 months ahead of the 2020 presidential election.
“The survival of our country is at stake. We will destroy our country if these people get in,” Trump said of his Democratic opponents.
Both Trump and Vice President Pence pushed a pro-life agenda during the rally, mirroring language used in anti-abortion legislation being introduced in states across the country. The increased efforts to overturn Roe v. Wade, a 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision that made abortion legal, coincide with a majority of conservative justices being on the highest bench.
The only thing that has been standing in the way of the Trump administration’s pro-life push in Pennsylvania is Gov. Tom Wolf. He recently vetoed one pro-life bill and vowed to reject all anti-abortion bills coming out of the Republican-controlled Legislature. As recently as Tuesday, he tweeted out his stalwart determination to block such efforts.
Pennsylvania Democrats have introduced no legislation that would expand abortion rights.
But Republican-backed legislation in Pennsylvania is drawing national attention as pro-life and pro-choice lawmakers debate proposed laws, including one that is modeled after legislation Pence signed into law as Indiana governor in 2016 and requires burials or cremations for miscarried or aborted fetuses.
Pennsylvania House Bill 1890 would require burials and cremations not just for miscarriages and abortions, but also fertilized eggs that do not implant.
Here’s what you need to know about abortion legislation in 2019 and other details, including the late-term abortions Trump mentioned:
The Pa. anti-abortion bills that received the most attention in 2019
1. House Bill 1890, also known as the Pennsylvania Final Disposition of Fetal Remains Act, would require burials or cremations for all unclaimed fetal remains. Current Pennsylvania law requires burial or cremation for fetuses after 16 weeks gestation.
To obtain a burial permit, a death certificate would be needed. The bill, introduced by Lebanon County Rep. Francis Ryan, says all fertilized eggs are unborn children and would require medical providers to get death certificates for those eggs.
A violation of House Bill 1890, if it becomes law, would yield up to a $300 fine or 30 days in prison for medical providers.
But Ryan said his bill is intended to provide options, not a mandate. It’s “strictly voluntary for women,” he said.
Ryan told a personal story when he introduced the legislation, explaining that he was upset when his wife had a miscarriage in the 1970s because the hospital disposed of the fetal remains without asking him.
“I still want to know where he is, and I don’t know that,” he said.
Ryan said he wants to help people get closure and heal, not hurt them.
According to his proposal, a woman would still have the right to choose what to do with the fetal remains, such as a burial or donation to research. But if a mother makes no decision, a medical provider must arrange for burial or cremation.
All unborn children should be treated with respect and dignity, and not discarded as medical waste, Ryan said.
Critics say it’s a back-door approach to add costs to abortion and restrict access to the procedures.
Ryan’s proposal would “harass health-care providers as well as shame women seeking abortions,” Ashley Lenker White, executive director of Planned Parenthood PA Advocates, said in a statement. “This is just another restriction being pushed by opponents of reproductive rights with the intention to chip away and ultimately eliminate access to safe legal abortion care in Pennsylvania.”
House Bill 1890 also puts women’s privacy at risk because death certificates can be made public, she said.
The Republican-controlled House passed Ryan’s bill 123-76 in late October. It has been referred to the Health and Human Services committee in the state Senate. If the Republican-controlled Senate passes the bill, Gov. Tom Wolf, a pro-choice Democrat and former Planned Parenthood volunteer, said he would veto it.
2. House Bill 1977 and Senate Bill 912 were introduced in October and would prohibit abortion if a fetal heartbeat is detected, which occurs at about six weeks into pregnancy.
The bills were introduced by freshmen state lawmakers Rep. Stephanie Borowicz, a Republican who serves parts of Centre and Clinton counties, and Sen. Doug Mastriano, a Republican who serves Adams County and parts of Cumberland, Franklin and York counties.
“When you hear a baby’s heartbeat, everything changes,” Borowicz said in October during a packed news conference at the State Capitol Building in Harrisburg. “If you can be declared dead when the heart stops, why not declared alive when it starts?”
Mastriano said he wouldn’t give up the fight.
“There’s something really wrong here. Something nefarious is going on. We turn our backs on the most vulnerable, those who don’t have a voice, and let them be massacred in the womb,” he said.
Current state law allows abortions up to 24 weeks of pregnancy, regardless if a heartbeat is detected. The proposed legislation would require all doctors in Pennsylvania to determine if there’s a heartbeat. If one is detected, an abortion could not be performed.
Planned Parenthood called it an unconstitutional attempt to ban abortions.
“Banning abortion at six weeks bans abortion before many people even know they’re pregnant,” Lenker White said.
Wolf said he would veto any abortion ban that is put on his desk.
The heartbeat bill “defies all practical understanding of modern women’s health care,” the governor said in a statement. “These policies run counter to the notion of individual freedom and lack a sound scientific basis. Further, as we have seen in other states, these policies are detrimental to efforts to attract and retain businesses, entrepreneurs and workers.”
He said his administration is committed to reducing maternal mortality and giving women, children and families support to succeed.
“This should be our focus, not regressive policies that make it harder for vulnerable people making difficult and deeply personal decisions,” Wolf said.
Both House and Senate versions of the heartbeat bill were referred to committee.
3. House Bill 321 bans abortions requested after a Down Syndrome diagnosis.
The legislation, introduced by Republican Rep. Kate Klunk of Hanover, was passed by the House and Senate, and vetoed by Wolf in November.
“Allowing babies to be aborted solely because they have a diagnosis of Down syndrome is a return to a dark hour of human history,” Klunk said in a statement after Wolf’s veto. “We must stand with these perfectly imperfect individuals and support their right to live, their right to love and to spread happiness in this world. I will continue to fight for the voiceless and ensure they are afforded the same chance at life as everyone else.”
On the same day Trump and Pence heralded a pro-life message in Hershey, Wolf was tweeting a message of his own:
“I will block any attempt to limit women’s rights. I’ll do every I can to protect Roe v. Wade. I’ll veto any anti-choice bill that lands on my desk.”
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