As regulations hampering access to safe, legal abortion continue to sweep across the states post-election, it’s increasingly looking like Pennsylvania will be next state to fall. If you placed your bets on Texas, don’t even worry, they’ve got plenty in the works.
On Monday, Pennsylvania’s GOP-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee voted to send a bill that would ban abortion at 20 weeks gestation to the state Senate, the Associated Press reports. From there, the AP notes that while Democratic Governor Tom Wolf has called the bill “radical” and “unconstitutional” and would veto it, there is strong potential for the veto to be overridden.
Still, there is some reason to be optimistic when one considers how legislation nearly identical to this passed Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives just last year, but was eventually struck down by Wolf and state medical organizations.
At the present, the state of Pennsylvania allows abortion until 24 weeks gestation, roughly when the fetus becomes viable. Roe v. Wade guarantees the right to an abortion until fetal viability, or when the fetus could potentially live independently outside of the mother, and so you’ll note that states with 20-week bans and dilation and evacuation bans, which essentially prohibit abortion at just 12-14 weeks, are in direct violation of the ruling.
Since all pregnancies are different and the point of fetal viability varies among women, it’s understandable that some controversy exists around when to draw a line, and when to note that a pregnancy is so far along it would frankly endanger the mother’s life to have the procedure. But it shouldn’t be lawmakers’ place to presume to know better than doctors what is best for women, and arbitrarily draw that line without anyone’s consent. For all the debate that continues to surround where life begins, pregnant women are incontrovertibly living humans, and surely that must give them some rights?
If the 20-week ban manages to become law in Pennsylvania, the state will become one of 16 that have enacted it.