HARRISBURG, Pa. — The Democratic governor of Pennsylvania has vowed to veto a bill banning abortions past 20 weeks—legislation that will could soon be heading to his desk after clearing the Senate on Wednesday.
Gov. Tom Wolf has called S.B. 3, which also bans dismemberment abortions on the unborn—or tearing them apart limb from limb—as being “radical and unconstitutional.”
“The Senate seems bent on pushing through the most radical and unconstitutional bill to prohibit a woman from exercising her own right to make decisions regarding her own health,” he told reporters on Monday.
“Over the last two weeks, millions of women have marched all across the country to make it clear to politicians that they want to retain control and the freedom to make their own health care decisions. This flies in the face of that,” Wolf stated, referring to the Women’s March. “It does one thing and that is—it eliminates a woman’s right to make choices as to her own health care.”
The bill, presented by Sen. Michele Brooks, R-Mercer, passed the Senate mainly along party lines 32-18. It now moves to the House for consideration.
“[N]o person shall perform or induce an abortion upon another person when the gestational age of the unborn child is 20 or more weeks,” the legislation reads in part, providing an exception for the life of the mother.
“An individual may not perform or attempt to perform a dismemberment abortion upon another individual when the gestational age of the unborn child is less than 20 weeks,” it outlines, again providing the exception of when the abortionist determines the procedure is necessary to save the life of the mother.
As previously reported, a dismemberment abortion, known as a dilation and evacuation procedure, is defined as the “act of knowingly and purposefully causing the death of an unborn child by means of dismembering the unborn child and extracting the unborn child one piece at a time from the uterus through the use of clamps, grasping forceps, tongs, scissors or similar instruments.”
Abortionists place each piece of the child on a tray and reassemble the baby to ensure all his or her parts have been removed.
“Today in this Commonwealth, we are aborting five-to six-month-old babies, many of whom are in a viable stage to live and survive outside the womb,” Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati, R-Jefferson County, lamented during debate in the legislature.
“Because I stand up for the unborn, I may be labeled radical or anti-woman. But those who cast such assertions completely forget the fact that over half of those we stand to protect today are unborn girls,” he declared.
“I think lots of us want to protect human lives. We want to do what’s right no matter what gender we are. No matter what race we are. We want to make sure people are protected in the womb in Pennsylvania,” also remarked Sen. John Eichelberger, R-Blair County.
But Democrats decried the legislation as being too restrictive on abortionists.
“You’re not going to tell a doctor what tools they can use to fix a heart valve, or what tools to use in brain surgery, but for some reason, we’re trying to dictate what tools in this bill a doctor can use during a pregnancy. That’s just insane,” argued Sen. Lisa Boscola, D-Northampton.
Wolf said on Monday that the bill “flies in the face of everything I stand for and I will veto it.” Lawmakers can override Wolf’s veto, but must have a two-thirds majority.
As previously reported, abortion was strongly condemned in early America, including in Pennsylvania, where Philadelphia legal writer, educator and Christian apologist Francis Wharton penned an entire chapter on abortion in his 1855 book “American Criminal Law.”
Wharton called abortionists “persons who are ready to degrade their humanity to this occupation” and stated in regard to abortion in general, “Such conduct cannot be too strongly condemned, and is the more deserving of receiving the punishment awarded for the criminal offense in question.”
In an introductory lecture to his course on obstetrics in 1854, Philadelphia Dr. Hugh Lennox Hodge likewise explained that if a woman were to come to a medical doctor in pursuit of an abortion, “he must, as it were, grasp the conscience of his weak and erring patient and let her know in language not to be misunderstood that she is responsible to her Creator for the life of the being within her.”
“The procuring abortion is ‘a base and unmanly act,’” Hodge also said, quoting in part text from a court ruling of his day. “It is a crime against the natural feelings of man, against the welfare and safety of females, against the peace and prosperity of society, against the divine command ‘Thou shalt not kill.’ It is murder.”