Bills to restrict abortion rights advanced in Pennsylvania

Bills to restrict abortion rights advanced in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania State Capitol in Harrisburg. HARRISBURG — Republicans who control Pennsylvania’s Legislature began Tuesday to advance bills to restrict abortion rights and expand gun rights, although the bills faced opposition by Democratic lawmakers and certain veto by Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf. In the House Health Committee, Republicans passed two bills on a party-line basis to further restrict abortion rights. One would restrict abortion after the detection of a fetal heartbeat, possibly as early as six weeks, before many women even know they are pregnant. It was the first time such a bill has emerged from a committee in Pennsylvania’s Legislature. It carries an exception for when it is medically necessary to protect the mother. The bill is similar to laws in more than a dozen other states, although federal courts have mostly blocked states from enforcing the measures. The other bill would prohibit an abortion on the basis of a Down syndrome diagnosis. Such legislation has, in past years, been blocked by federal courts in every state where it was challenged, and Wolf vetoed something identical or similar in 2019. However, former President Donald Trump’s judicial appointments have begun to change that, and court rulings already have allowed enforcement of the laws in Missouri, Tennessee and Ohio. Pennsylvania law allows abortions up to 24 weeks of pregnancy for any reason except to select a gender, with exceptions for rape, incest or to protect the life of the mother.

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