Debate on the state Senate floor Wednesday over an abortion bill sparked a rare war of words between two legislators of the same party.

Sen. Pat Vance (R., Cumberland) and Sen. Robert Mensch (R., Montgomery) duked it out over whether an amendment to a bill toughening standards at abortion clinics would improve health care for women or effectively end abortion services in the state.

Vance drafted the original Senate Bill 732 to strengthen state licensing standards and inspections after physician Kermit Gosnell was charged with the murder of seven babies and one woman at his West Philadelphia clinic.

Mensch slapped on an amendment that would require clinics performing abortions after nine weeks of pregnancy to meet the same standards as outpatient surgery centers.

In the debate, Vance fumed over Mensch's amendment, saying it would add such costs for the state's 20 freestanding abortion clinics that they would close.

"They are using this as a facade to close down clinics," said Vance, the legislature's only registered nurse. "This is a cover for those who do not like abortion."

Mensch accused Vance and Democrats who spoke against his amendment of "hyperbole," and said there was no evidence that a new law would close clinics.

His amendment was approved, 31-18. A final Senate vote is expected next week. - Amy Worden
Mayor Nutter's reelection campaign Wednesday trumpeted a poll it had commissioned, in which Nutter squashed his predecessor, John F. Street, who is threatening to run this fall as an independent.

The poll of 503 city voters May 31 and June 1 estimated that in a three-way race, Nutter, a Democrat, would get 67 percent, Republican Karen Brown 14 percent, and Street 13 percent (less than half what his brother, Milton, received in last month's Democratic mayoral primary).

Another poll, though, is about to test whether Nutter might be vulnerable if two men joined the fall race: millionaire Tom Knox, as an independent, and Democratic Councilman Bill Green as the Republican nominee.

That's right. Green as the Republican nominee.

Green could not be immediately reached for comment.

Turns out a party can nominate anyone, regardless of party affiliation, who has lived in the city for the last three years - so long as there's a vacancy on the ticket.

"It's one of those quirks. It's never happened," city Republican leader Michael Meehan said. Besides, the GOP has its nominee: Democrat-turned-Republican Brown.

So who would poll for such a quirky thing, and why?

Stay tuned. - Marcia Gelbart