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Bill Restricting Abortions Passes Senate Committee

Fetal anomalies often are not diagnosed until 19 weeks or later. (Scott/Wikimedia Commons)
Fetal anomalies often are not diagnosed until 19 weeks or later. (Scott/Wikimedia Commons)
February 7, 2017

HARRISBURG, Pa. – The state Senate's Judiciary Committee voted Monday to further restrict abortions in Pennsylvania. The party-line vote approved a measure that would cut the limit on abortion access from 24 weeks to 20. The vote was taken despite the fact that the committee held no public hearings and did not seek input from medical professionals. The only exceptions would be to protect the mother from death or irreversible physical harm.

According to Dr. Lisa Perriera, an OB-GYN and abortion provider at the Philadelphia Women's Center, if it becomes law this bill would be one of the most restrictive in the country.

"There are no exceptions for incest and rape to this bill," she said. "They have no exceptions for fetal anomalies, which are not often diagnosed until after 19 weeks of pregnancy."

The bill also severely limits the use of a procedure it calls "dismemberment abortions," which is not a medically recognized term.

Perriera says that refers to dilation and evacuation, a commonly used procedure that often is safest for the mother.

"Women should always have the choice of how they want this process to go for them, and by banning this procedure you take choice away from a family that's going a really difficult time," she explained.

The same bill passed the House of Representatives last year, but did not come up for a vote in the Senate before the end of the legislative session.

Last year the president of the Pennsylvania Medical Society wrote that the bill would set a dangerous precedent by legislating specific treatment protocols. Perriera agrees.

"I'm appalled that legislators are trying to put themselves squarely between doctors and patients and try to legislate medicine and basic health care," she added.

Governor Tom Wolf is expected to veto the bill if it reaches his desk.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - PA