Republicans in the Pennsylvania House pushed through a bill Tuesday that would ban abortions that are prompted by a prenatal Down syndrome diagnosis, although the Democratic governor has vowed to veto it.
State representatives voted 120-83 for legislation that the prime sponsor, Republican Rep. Kate Klunk of York County, called “the right thing to do.”
“I believe we truly have a responsibility to stand up for those who do not have a voice,” Klunk said.
If it becomes law, the proposal will require a doctor who performs an abortion to provide a written statement that it was not motivated in any way by a prenatal diagnosis or test indicating Down syndrome.
“This legislation could prevent patients from seeking the information they need to become the best parents possible, when they need it the most,” said Rep. Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny, who voted against it. He said the bill “makes it a crime to think and consider options.”
Rep. Kathy Rapp, R-Warren, compared abortion over a Down syndrome diagnosis to genocide.
“People with Down syndrome are living longer than ever and they’re happier than most of us,” Rapp said. “So why are many of them being aborted, why? It’s a curious and heart-wrenching question, because there never has been a better time in all of history for people with Down syndrome.”
The bill would make it a third-degree felony for the doctor, who could lose his or her medical license. There is no criminal penalty for the expectant mother.
“It would actually put doctors in jail for performing this procedure,” said Rep. Leanne Krueger, D-Delaware. She noted the bill has no exceptions for pregnancies that resulted from rape or incest, or when a mother’s life is at risk.
“Politicians should not make this decision for us,” Krueger argued.
It was sent to the Republican-majority state Senate for its consideration. Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, vetoed similar legislation in 2019 and recently reiterated his intention to veto the new version.