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Pennsylvania Democrats “harnessing fear” to enshrine abortion in state’s constitution

by | May 31, 2023

By Tabitha Goodling

A House Bill in Pennsylvania promising to protect access to abortion in the state by amending the state Constitution is being pushed by Democrats along couched in unfounded fear over abortion access but may end up backfiring, a Republican representative said. 

House Bill 803 is waiting for approval by the Democrat-run House of Representatives. Democrat Rep. Danielle Otten sponsored the bill.

The proposed law is dangerous, one local pro-life leader said, eliminating sensible regulations put in place following the scandal of the state’s most notorious abortionist. 

“This is a dangerous bill which would wipe out common sense protections for pregnant women and their babies,” said Maria Gallagher, legislative director of the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation. “Parental consent, informed consent, and the 24-hour waiting period for abortion would all be gone under this pro-abortion measure.” 

“This proposed Constitutional Amendment would end decades of reasonable regulations—including the regulations passed in the wake of the Kermit Gosnell scandal,” Gallagher told Pregnancy Help News

House Bill 803 has been referred to the House Health Committee, said Republican Rep. Kate Klunk, so the bill is just beginning the legislative process. 

“It will first be considered by the committee,” Klunk explained. “If it passes, it could be brought to the floor of the House chamber for a vote. If the bill is considered on three separate days and agreed to, then the bill would pass the House and move to the Senate Health Committee for consideration, where the bill must undergo the same process in the Senate.”

Abortion is legal in Pennsylvania up to 24 weeks. To protect that current status, Democrats are trying to get it written into the state constitution and using unsubstantiated fear in their efforts to get it done.

“Since the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling to overturn Roe v. Wade, Democrats are proliferating the fear that women’s reproductive rights are at stake, which simply isn’t true,” Klunk said. “Abortion and reproductive care remain legal in Pennsylvania, but Democrats are harnessing that fear to propose an amendment to the Pennsylvania Constitution that would guarantee constitutionally protected access to abortions.” 

Klunk said there is a chance pregnancy centers in Pennsylvania could be impacted but it is unclear to what extent. 

“Would it mandate them to provide access to abortions? Would it jeopardize the equally important religious convictions held by many of the state’s crisis pregnancy centers? These are only some of things my colleagues and I will have to dive deeper on to understand the true consequences this legislation could have,” she said.

Because such a decision would amend the Pennsylvania Constitution, it must be considered and passed in two consecutive sessions. Klunk said it must pass both chambers in two back-to-back sessions and would end up on a ballot for the Pennsylvania voters to decide.

Klunk told Pregnancy Help News she is optimistic the Republican-led Senate will stop the bill in its tracks.

“While control of the House has been razor thin between Republicans and Democrats, the GOP still has a six-seat stronghold in the Senate,” she said. “In order for House Bill 803 to be considered on the floor of the Senate, the President Pro Tempore must call it up for a vote. The current Senate President Pro Tempore is a Republican member, Sen. Kim Ward.”

Klunk also said the bill may reignite passionate Pennsylvania pro-lifers.

“I think this legislation may have the opposite effect the maker of the bill intended by causing a renewed wave of pro-life advocacy,” said Klunk. “Every year at the state Capitol, thousands of people from all over the Commonwealth gather in Harrisburg at the March for Life rally. Driven by their passion on this issue, I believe they will continue to fight for life and be an even louder voice for the voiceless. I know I will.”

Editor’s note. This appeared at Pregnancy Help News and is reposted with permission.

Categories: State Legislation