The #Pennsylvania state Senate passed legislation on Wednesday designed to ban abortions at 20 weeks, following in the footsteps of sixteen other states with similar bans modeled after a proposal from the National Right to Life Committee.

The bill easily passed the Republican-controlled Senate by a 32-18 vote, but before it can become law, the bill must be put to a vote in the House. However, the biggest roadblock in the path to becoming law is the state's governor, Tom Wolfe, who is a pro-choice Democrat. According to the Associated Press, Wolfe, who has called the bill "radical and unconstitutional," has promised to veto the legislation.

Advertisements
Advertisements

The Pennsylvania state Senate is two votes short of the two-thirds majority required to override a veto.

No exceptions made for rape or incest

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Michele Brooks of Mercer County, prohibits abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Presently, state law bans elective abortion procedures after 24 weeks. The bill includes exceptions to protect the life of the mother, though under the new bill no exceptions are offered for pregnancies resulting from sexual assault, rape, or incest. There are also no exceptions for cases in which the baby is likely to develop congenital defects or abnormalities.

Opponents claim new bill criminalizes abortion

Advocates of the bill claim that closing the abortion window by four weeks is necessary because of medical advances in recent years that make fetuses viable in earlier stages of pregnancy.

Advertisements

Sen. Brooks argued that fetuses are now viable at 23 to 24 weeks.

Opponents of the bill, however, view some of the provisions as an attempt to "criminalize" abortion. According to the provisions of the #abortion ban, doctors who perform "dismemberment abortions"-- procedures in which fetuses are destroyed in the womb and left to bleed to death -- can face up to seven years in prison. Critics also contend that the new bill would prohibit dilation-and-evacuation procedures, which is the most common method of second-trimester abortions.