Contentious abortion bill moving quickly through Pa. Senate

    Pennsylvania Sen. Lisa Boscola

    Pennsylvania Sen. Lisa Boscola

    A Pennsylvania Senate committee has advanced an abortion bill that would ban the procedure after 20 weeks gestation rather than the current 24-week standard.

    As expected, the panel’s vote largely broke down across party lines, with 10 Republicans outvoting five Democrats to move the measure forward.

    Supporters cited medical advances that have made fetuses viable as early as 20 weeks. Opponents countered that late-term abortions are generally conducted because of severe medical issues.

    The only woman on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Lisa Boscola, D-Lehigh, said that she’s had five miscarriages and would have loved to have a child. But she said she still believes a woman’s right to choose is fundamental.

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    “I would never ever put this on any other family to make a decision — right or wrong — about what they should do with their bodies,” she said.

    The bill also criminalizes a procedure it called “dismemberment abortion.”

    That’s not a medically accepted term, and Democrats have raised concerns it could be conflated with a common late-term abortion procedure called “dilation and extraction.”

    Boscola said such provisions are overreach.

    “I’ve never seen anything like that,” she said. “In surgical procedures, you’re not going to tell a doctor what tools they can use to fix a heart valve. But, for some reason, we’re trying to dictate what tools a doctor can use during a pregnancy. That’s just insane.”

    Democrats also objected that no public hearings were held on the bill, but Republicans said such calls were merely an unnecessary delay tactic.

    Last session, a version of the same plan withered away in the Senate under threat of veto from Gov. Tom Wolf.

    Wolf reaffirmed his position Monday, calling the proposal “radical and unconstitutional.”

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