Pennsylvania Committee Passes Pro-Life Bill to Ban Abortions After 20 Weeks

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Jul 12, 2016   |   12:06PM   |   Harrisburg, PA

A Pennsylvania bill that would ban later-term abortions and brutal dismemberment abortions is one step closer to becoming law in the Keystone State.

On Monday, the state Senate Judiciary Committee voted 9-5 to move the bill forward to the full Senate, PennLive reports. The Pennsylvania Family Institute lists how the committee members voted here. The state House passed the bill in a bipartisan vote in June.

Pennsylvania House Bill 1948, sponsored by state Rep. Kathy Rapp, would ban brutal dismemberment abortions that tear unborn babies limb from limb and prohibit abortions after 20 weeks when unborn babies can feel pain.


Pennsylvania currently allows abortions up until 24 weeks of pregnancy, which was considered the point of viability when the legislation was enacted; but thanks to modern medical advancements, more unborn babies are surviving even earlier outside the womb. Rapp said her bill would reflect these advancements by banning abortions after 20 weeks.

She pointed out that some unborn babies are being aborted in Pennsylvania while others at the same stage of pregnancy are being saved with new life-saving surgical procedures at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

“In the state that’s leading the way for dramatic, life-preserving surgeries for the smallest lives, we’re going to end the inhumane practice of dismemberment abortions, which tears a living human being to pieces,” Rapp said in a video message about the legislation. “We can do better than that, and Pennsylvania’s women and girls deserve better.”

“We cannot diminish one category of human life, the unborn, without diminishing the value of human life,” Rapp said on the House floor in June. “What is the value of human life?”

The bill has the potential to save even more lives by banning brutal dismemberment abortions, which tear unborn babies limb from limb. Maria Gallagher, legislative director of the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation, said about 1,550 babies are killed in Pennsylvania every year in dismemberment abortions.

“These common abortions are performed on fully developed, preborn babies at their most vulnerable, and when they should be the safest,” said Gallagher.  “In a dismemberment abortion, fully-formed babies are brutally torn apart limb from limb.  We’ve seen ultrasound images of these babies clapping, dancing, and reacting to stimuli from outside the womb. Surely we can all agree that they do not deserve to be torn apart in the most horrific and gruesome way possible.”

A handful of states also have passed dismemberment abortion bans, which are the brainchild of the National Right to Life Committee.

The bill also is modeled, in part, after the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which has become law in 12 states: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

Families with babies born prematurely also are speaking up in support of the pro-life bill. The Dreistadt family said their 12-year-old son Will was born weighing just over 1 pound. He was so small that his parents’ wedding rings could fit around his arm. Despite a long hospital stay and six surgeries, the western Pennsylvania boy now is thriving.

“In PA, babies at the age of Will’s birth are able to be aborted even though they can survive outside the womb,” his parents Jason and Tammy said. “So many advancements in technology have been made since the writing of current Pennsylvania abortion laws, and even in the 12 years since Will was born! We can now even perform surgeries on unborn children.”

Michele Willis’ son Jackson is another example. The Pittsburgh mom was carrying twins when she began struggling with a cervical problem, she told the Pennsylvania Family Institute. Her doctors suggested an abortion, but she refused. Jackson’s twin, Charlie, died tragically soon after he was born at 23 weeks; but Jackson remained in the womb for a few more days and survived, she said.

Willis said Jackson was born right on the 24-week mark, the current abortion limit in Pennsylvania. Today, Jackson is doing well. His mother said he is a happy baby, and he has caught up to his peers developmentally.

“If he was born a half an hour earlier, he would have been considered 23 weeks,” she said. “Extremely premature babies are surviving at record rates – some as young as 22 weeks. I hope my story can help others see just how precious life is.”

However, pro-abortion Gov. Tom Wolf, who once volunteered at a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic, said he will veto the bill. It is unclear if the legislature has enough votes to override Wolf’s veto.

ACTION: If you are a resident of Pennsylvania, call your state Senator and urge him or her to support House Bill 1948. Find your state Senator here: Also, contact Governor Wolf here.