HARRISBURG — The Republican-controlled state House on Tuesday passed a bill that would ban abortions based on Down syndrome. It now heads to the Senate for consideration.
What does the bill do?
The bill, sponsored by House Speaker Mike Turzai (R., Allegheny) and Rep. Kate Klunk (R., York), would ban abortions if they are performed based solely on the fact that a fetus has been diagnosed with Down syndrome.
The bill contains exceptions if the fetus was conceived “as the result of rape or incest” or if the abortion is “required because of a medical emergency.” Violating the state’s abortion law is a third-degree felony.
What are people saying about it?
Supporters compare it to the current part of state law that bans abortions based solely on the fetus’ sex. They describe it as an effort to prevent eugenics and protect people with Down syndrome.
Critics note, for one thing, that it’s unclear how the measure could be enforced. They also argue, as they have for other abortion bills, that such decisions are most appropriately made between a woman and her doctor, rather than by the state.
What are its chances of passing?
A similar bill passed the House last session and languished in the Senate, where this version now heads. The Senate is set to return in June, after the primary has passed.
Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, would veto the bill if it came to his desk, according to spokesperson J.J. Abbott.
How does it compare with what other states are doing?
Several other states, primarily in the South and Midwest, have been advancing bills that would ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, which typically happens about six weeks into a pregnancy, before many women know that they are pregnant.
As it currently stands, the bill pushed by Turzai and Klunk does not make any changes to the time frame in which women can have an abortion. Current state law prohibits abortions beginning in the 24th week of pregnancy.