HARRISBURG - Democrats who oppose a bill placing new limits on abortion failed Wednesday to delay a vote on the measure, setting the stage for the full House to consider the legislation as early as next week.
Democrats in the chamber tried to postpone until mid-June a vote on a bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy - except in medical emergencies - instead of 24 weeks under current law. The measure also would sharply curtail medical use of a procedure known as dilation and evacuation.
In seeking the delay, Democrats noted that the measure had been moved through the legislative process with lightning speed: It was introduced Friday and approved in committee Monday without a single hearing.
"There has been no opportunity for a deliberative discussion on this bill," Rep. Steve Santarsiero (D., Bucks) said Wednesday.
Republicans who control the House and who favor the bill struck down the Democrats' effort, saying there would be time for debate Monday, when the bill could come up for a vote on final passage.
The Pennsylvania Medical Society has written several legislators stating its opposition to the bill, and an association representing gynecologists and obstetricians has expressed concerns.
Gov. Wolf has said he would veto it. The GOP-controlled Senate has not said whether it would consider the bill should it pass the House.
Proponents of the legislation say it is necessary to prevent fetuses from feeling pain during abortion procedures. Congress is considering a bill to ban abortions at 20 weeks, according to Planned Parenthood, which says the majority of abortions occur before that.
A dozen states have passed legislation banning abortion after 20 weeks, with an exception in most of those states for life or health emergencies, says the Guttmacher Institute, a research and policy nonprofit that aims to advance "sexual and reproductive health and rights."
The bill's sponsor, Rep. Kathy Rapp (R., Warren), on Wednesday said of the legislation: "Yes, it does affect many lives, but the lives it affects the most are the lives of the unborn children."