PHILADELPHIA, Pa. — Democratic Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf vetoed on Monday a bill that would have banned abortions after 20 weeks, but also would have allowed dismemberment of the unborn up to that point as long as the baby was first killed by another method, such as being “injected by saline to cause its death before its arms and legs are ripped off.”
Wolf decried the bill as infringing on a woman’s “right” to an abortion, while the Republican legislator who sponsored the measure noted that the legislation does not ban abortionists from tearing babies apart when they are dead.
“One of the biggest myths about this bill is that it would ban all D and E procedures; it would not. The baby would just not be alive before a dismemberment abortion can occur,” Sen. Michele Brooks (R-Crawford County) said in a statement about the “pro-life” bill that passed the Senate 32-18 in February and the House 121-70 last week.
Senate Bill 3, which made it a crime to “perform or induce an abortion upon another person when the gestational age of the unborn child is 20 or more weeks” except for when the mother’s health is in danger, also sought to ban the practice of dismembering babies while they are alive in the womb. Read the bill in full here.
“Currently in Pennsylvania, a live, six-month-old fetus can be ripped apart and left to bleed to death,” Brooks lamented during floor debate.
Her bill defined dilation and evacuation abortions (D&E) as “[t]he 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.”
However, S.B. 3 also noted that the bill “does not include an abortion which is exclusively performed through suction curettage,” a vacuum-like method that is commonly used in surgical first-trimester abortions. Brooks has additionally explained that the legislation would rather require the abortionist to first end the child’s life, for example, using a saline injection, before he or she can be dismembered.
“Brooks said the bill would ban the procedure while the fetus is alive, but not if the fetus is dead or killed by a saline injection,” the Associated Press reported in February.
She reiterated on Monday following Gov. Wolf’s veto that the legislation does not ban D&E procedures altogether, but only would mandate that the baby already be dead before being dismembered.
“Senate Bill 3 does not ban D&E (dilation and evacuation) abortions. Under current law a six-month in utero baby during a D&E can be torn apart limb by limb for it to bleed to death. Senate Bill 3 requires that tearing the baby apart cannot cause the death of the baby, but instead it must be injected by saline to cause its death before its arms and legs are ripped off… ,” Brooks’ office noted in a press release.
According to Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, a saline injection abortion entails inserting a needle filled with a salt solution into the amniotic sac.
“After the toxic mixture is injected, the baby swallows the salt solution and is poisoned and his skin burned. After suffering for 1 to 1.5 hours, the baby’s heartbeat stops,” the site outlines. “The corrosive effect of the salt solution burns the lungs and strips away the outer layer of the baby’s skin. The mother goes through labor and soon delivers a burned, shriveled and dead baby. The abortion, in medical terms, is considered a success.”
Books said in a statement that she was saddened that misinformation had been disseminated about her bill, including that it would ban all D&E procedures or that it would prevent a woman from obtaining an abortion in the event of rape or incest.
“I am extremely disappointed with the governor’s veto and the misinformation that opponents have spread about the bill,” she remarked. “But my greatest disappointment is that we will be unable to protect so many babies in the future, who will never know the joy of living.”
“The people who say this legislation is ‘radical’ and ‘cruel’ are the same people who believe it is acceptable to tear the arms and legs off a six-month baby in utero. That’s cruel and radical,” Brooks continued. “I find it radical and cruel for the governor to protect someone on death row who has raped and murdered women, but not protect the life of an innocent baby.”
Wolf, who is an abortion advocate, characterized the bill as “bald-faced attempt to create the most extreme anti-choice legislation in the country.” He vowed to veto the measure in February after it cleared the Senate.
“This legislation is an attempt to criminalize the decisions that women make about their own health care, and this legislation destroys health care options for victims of the horrors of rape and incest. For these reasons, I am vetoing this bill today,” he remarked in a statement.
According to U.S. News & World Report, 1,588 D&E abortions were performed in Pennsylvania in 2015.
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.”