HARRISBURG, P.a. (WEMT) – Efforts to severely restrict Pennsylvania’s abortion laws are moving forward through the State Legislature, prompting pushback from pro-choice advocates and a vow from Gov. Tom Wolf to veto any bills that reach his desk.
One bill, known as “The Heartbeat Bill” would bar women from undergoing an abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected. The second bill – the Down Syndrome Protection Act – would prohibit abortions based on a prenatal Down syndrome diagnosis. Currently, Pennsylvania permits abortion procedures up to 24 weeks into a pregnancy.
“I think all human life deserves dignity and honor,” Pennsylvania Republican Representative Clint Owlett said. “No matter if you’re diagnosed with Down syndrome or not, you need to be valued.”
Pro-choice advocates, including leaders from Planned Parenthood, said they’re prepared to battle anti-choice legislation.
A six-week ban would prevent someone who’s pregnant from getting an abortion before many people even know that they’re pregnant,” President and CEO at the Keystone Planned Parenthood Melissa Reed said. “The abortion ban with Down syndrome is really another attempt to ban abortion. It’s just really sadly using people with disabilities as a way to push their anti-abortion agenda.”
Rep. Owelett is one of multiple Republicans who voted to pass the Down Syndrome Protection Act through the Pennsylvania House.
“A vote for me is valuing those individuals,” Owlett told 18 News.
Data from the NARAL shows Pennsylvania currently has some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country. Currently, 85-percent of counties in the state don’t have clinics that provide abortions.
For clinics that do provide abortions, counseling for the mother is mandatory, as well as a 24-hour waiting period.
Fundamentally, I think that a person who’s pregnant needs to have all their options available to them,” Reed said. “It’s not up to me to make that decision and it’s certainly not up to an elected official to insert themselves in very personal and intimate medical decisions.”