Pennsylvania governor vetoes bill to prohibit late-term abortions

Pennsylvania governor vetoes bill to prohibit late-term abortions
Gov. Tom Wolf (D-Pa.) vetoed a bill Monday to prohibit abortion procedures after 20 weeks gestation in the state. Abortion is currently legal in Pennsylvania up to 24 weeks gestation. (2016 file photo/Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) vetoed a bill Monday to prohibit abortion procedures after 20 weeks gestation in the state.

What happened?

The Pennsylvania House approved the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act and Dismemberment Ban in a 121-70 vote last week. The state Senate previously approved the bill as well.

Supporters say the bill would protect the lives of unborn children and protect women from dangerous late-term procedures. Critics say it would limit women’s reproductive rights.

Following through on his veto threat against the legislation, the governor rejected the legislation Monday.

In a statement, Wolf said, “This legislation is a disingenuous and bald-faced attempt to create the most extreme anti-choice legislation in the country.”

“This legislation is an attempt to criminalize the decisions that women make about their own health care, and this legislation destroys health care options for victims of the horrors of rape and incest,” said Wolf, a former Planned Parenthood clinic escort. “For these reasons, I am vetoing this bill today.”

Abortion is currently legal in Pennsylvania up to 24 weeks gestation.

What did activists say?

In a statement provided to PennLive.com, Lindsey Mauldin, the deputy director for Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Advocates, said the legislation “was nothing more than a callous attempt to score cheap political points through needless cruelty toward women, and we applaud the governor for continuing to stand for Pennsylvania women and for what is right.”

Steve Aden, chief legal officer and general counsel for Americans United for Life, said the group is disappointed Wolf “has vetoed common sense protections for pain-capable unborn children.”

“Not only did this legislation provide protections for the unborn child who can feel pain, but it would also have protected mothers from the increased risks associated with later term abortions,” Aden said. “Research shows that a woman seeking an abortion at 20 weeks (five months) is 35 times more likely to die from an abortion than she was in the first trimester.

“This risk continues to increase exponentially as the pregnancy progresses, due to both the development and growth of the unborn child, as well as the physical changes a woman’s body undergoes in preparation for delivery,” Aden continued.

“We urge the citizens of Pennsylvania and members of the legislature to continue to fight for legislation that protects both mothers and their unborn children from the harms of abortion,” Aden said.