Word coming from the hill is that Senate Republicans are preparing to run a 20 week abortion ban next week. Senate Bill 3 was introduced by State Senator Michele Brooks at the start of the session and it has been sent to the Judiciary committee. A possible committee vote on the bill can come as early as Monday and a Senate Floor vote as early as Wednesday.
Senate Bill 3 is the same 20 week abortion ban House Republicans tried to stealthily sneak through the lower chamber in the same exact circumstances. The bill will only allow abortions after the 20th week if it is to save the life of the mother.
At yesterday’s hearing, a vote to decide if the Health Committee should hold a public hearing that allows the public to submit public input on the legislation failed by a 13-13 tie. The bill labels all abortions after 20 weeks as “dismemberment” or “pain capable” abortions and would ban all procedures after twenty weeks and penalizes doctors who perform the abortion. The only exceptions to the ban are to save the life of the mother or prevent “substantial and irreversible impairment of major bodily function of the woman.” Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania points outthat the bill would ban abortions in the case of “rape, incest, health or tragic anomalies.” Last week, a woman in Texas was forced to give birth to a stillborn fetus because of legislation similar to Representative Rapp’s bill.
Rewire, a non-profit online publication dedicated to investigating sexual assault and reproductive health, rights and justice issues, demonstrates that bills like Pennsylvania’s HB 1948 and Texas’ HB 2 are part of a national effort to ban abortions after 20 weeks in state legislatures around the country. According to the organization, “the most popular legislative model banning abortion at 20 weeks is the ‘Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act’” that is based on “model legislation authored by the National Right to Life Committee.”
Representative Rapp’s co-sponsor memo for House Bill 1948 used the NRLC’s “pain-capable” argument to garner support from her colleagues. According to the memo, Rapp claims there is growing scientific evidence that proves fetuses can begin to feel pain up at 20 weeks. Legislation that has been introduced in 2016 and that is similar to Rapp’s bill can be found in Idaho, South Dakota, New Hampshire and more, but FactCheck’s “Science Check” gathered a number of medical journals that has disproved the claim.
The National Right to Life Committee operates in similar fashion to the American Legislative Exchange Council, the legislative paper mill that is funded by the Koch Brothers and pushes corporate friendly, pro-business, free market reforms in state governments around the country. The organization drafts forced-birthing bills, distributes them throughout the country and begins to rack up legislative victories.