A fast-moving plan to restrict abortions in Pennsylvania has cleared a first hurdle in the State House.
The measure would ban most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy — four weeks earlier than the current state law. The bill would also prohibit a common second-trimester procedure called dilation and evacuation.
It’s not a medical term, but Maria Gallagher, legislative director for the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation, said anti-abortion activists call the procedure “dismemberment abortions.”
“When people find out what goes on in a dismemberment abortion — they are appalled,” Gallagher said.
Sari Stevens, executive director of Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Advocates, said the bill would make the commonwealth’s abortion rules the most restrictive across the country.
The abortion-restriction bill was introduced Friday. It cleared the house health committee Monday, and the full Pennsylvania House could vote on the plan this week. Gov. Tom Wolf has said he would veto it, and critics say the proposal hasn’t had adequate debate or a hearing to fully explore the consequences on women.
Montgomery County resident Erica Goldblatt Hyatt said the proposal would eliminate an option her family needed.
When doctors said her unborn son was developing without an airway, Goldblatt Hyatt said, abortion was not an option.
“I thought absolutely not. This is my first child. He’s wanted and I’ll do anything to keep him,” she said.
Soon after, doctors conducted a slew of tests.
“I was told that his condition was so severe, it was most likely that he would be born brain dead, and if he survived he would be on multiple machines, in the neonatal intensive care unit, and likely die of a secondary infection,” she said.
Goldblatt Hyatt had a D&E a few days after her 20th week of pregnancy.
“We decided to terminate the pregnancy, and I really viewed that as my first parenting decision,” she said. “As a mother, this was in my son’s best interest.”
Goldblatt Hyatt, who holds a doctorate in social work, wrote about that decision recently for the web site modernloss.com.
“We need to keep this decision for our families and our bodies to ourselves,” she said.
What do most Americans think about restrictions on later term abortions? The evidence is conflicting.
Planned Parenthood offered the Hart survey that suggests that most people favor access to abortion after 20 weeks in many circumstances.
Anti-abortion groups often quote a survey from the Knights of Columbus that shows majority opposition to later-term abortions.