A Pennsylvania House committee advanced pro-life legislation Tuesday to protect unborn babies by banning abortions once their heartbeat is detectable.
Sponsored by state Rep. Stephanie Borowicz, R-Clinton, and more than 50 other lawmakers, the bill would require abortionists to check for a heartbeat and prohibit the abortion if the unborn baby’s heartbeat is detectable. Typically, an unborn baby’s heartbeat can be detected around six weeks of pregnancy.
“This will save so many lives,” Borowicz told lawmakers prior to the vote. “It is now our time to have our voices heard and turn the table on the killing of 61 million babies’ lives, [including] 31,000 babies’ lives lost every year in Pennsylvania. … This is a fight we will win, and I’m honored to stand and fight for those that can’t speak for themselves.”
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The legislation is similar to heartbeat laws that have passed in Ohio, Texas and other states. If enforced, these laws could save hundreds of thousands of unborn babies from abortion every year.
Also on Tuesday, the committee passed two other pro-life bills to protect the life and dignity of the unborn child.
One, the Down Syndrome Protection Act (state House Bill 1500), would prohibit discriminatory abortions on unborn babies with Down syndrome. It would add to a state law that bans sex-selection abortions.
The other, the Unborn Child Dignity Act (state House Bill 118), would require health care facilities to give parents the option of burial or cremation after the death of their unborn baby.
“It’s far past time for Pennsylvania to improve our laws on abortion,” said retired Judge Cheryl Allen with Pennsylvania Family Institute. “Our state still allows abortion up to six months in pregnancy and selective abortions for a diagnosis of Down syndrome. This must change.”
The Pennsylvania legislature is controlled by Republicans, and some Democrat state lawmakers are pro-life. However, Gov. Tom Wolf has vetoed every pro-life bill that has reached his desk. Wolf is a pro-abortion Democrat who used to volunteer at Planned Parenthood.
A number of states have passed heartbeat laws in recent years, but all have been banned from enforcing them due to legal challenges by abortion activist groups. States with heartbeat laws include Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, Texas and Tennessee.
Americans support strong limits on abortion. A 2019 Hill-HarrisX survey found that 55 percent of voters said they do not think laws banning abortions after six weeks – when an unborn baby’s heartbeat is detectable – are too restrictive. Gallup polls also consistently have found that a majority of Americans think all or most abortions should be illegal.
Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear a Mississippi case that many believe directly challenges Roe v. Wade and could allow states to protect unborn babies once again. At issue in the case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization is the question of “whether all pre-viability prohibitions on elective abortion are unconstitutional.”
In 1973, the Supreme Court took away the states’ ability to protect unborn babies from abortion under Roe v. Wade, and instead forced states to legalize abortion on demand. Roe made the United States one of only seven countries in the world that allows elective abortions after 20 weeks.