The last weeks of session in the Pennsylvania Legislature saw much activity on the issues of concern to Pennsylvania’s Catholics. We offer our sincere thanks for your efforts this year, and we offer an update below. The staff of the PCC wishes you and your family a very Merry Christmas. May the joy and peace that the Christ child brings be with you throughout 2012!
SB 1 – Vouchers and an Increase to EITC
In the final days of their 2011 session, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives did not take up the issue of vouchers to the great disappointment of school choice proponents across the state.
Senate Bill 1, The Opportunity Scholarship Act, passed the Senate in late October by a vote of 27-22. School choice supporters were hopeful that families in Pennsylvania would soon be able to choose the education that is best for their children, but the voucher proposal discussed by House leadership was vastly different than Senate Bill 1. Ultimately, this different language was never put before the House for a vote. Legislation concerning charter schools that included an increase to EITC was put forth for a vote and did not pass.
Senate Bill 1 remains an active piece of legislation. Send a message to your legislature asking them to take up school choice when they return by clicking here.
SB 732 – Abortion Clinic Regulations Passed into Law
Championed by Rep. Matt Baker (R-Tioga), Senate Bill 732 passed the Pennsylvania House of Representatives by a vote of 151-44 on Tuesday, December 13. It passed the Senate earlier this year by a vote of 38-12 and on Wednesday, December 14, it was again passed in the Senate (32-18) in concurrence with the House. The bill awaits the governor’s signature.
The new law addresses concerns that stemmed from a tragedy that occurred in the Philadelphia abortion clinic of Dr. Kermit Gosnell where a woman died and seven newborn babies were killed by infanticide. Conditions in the clinic were so filthy and unsafe that investigators called it a “house of horrors.” The measure holds abortion facilities to the same fire and safety standards, personnel and equipment requirements, and quality assurance procedures as other freestanding ambulatory surgical facilities.
The passage of this bill into law is a victory for women and children in Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania Catholic Conference (PCC) is urging all advocates to thank their legislators who voted yes for their pro-life vote on SB 732. Click here for the list of Senators and Representatives who voted in favor of the abortion clinic regulations bill. If you live in one of these legislators’ districts, you can use the Pennsylvania Catholic Advocacy Network to send an easy email thank you message today.
HB 1977 – Abortion Ban in Health Insurance Exchanges Passes PA House
On Monday, December 12, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives voted 146 to 45 to remove abortion funding from the state health care exchanges that will be created by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).
This margin of victory in the state house indicates that the legislature is not in favor of using taxpayer’s money to fund abortions. According to a 2010 Quinnipiac Poll, 67% of Americans oppose abortion funding in the federal health care exchange.
House Bill 1977 now goes to the state senate. This bill is similar to Senate Bill 3, which passed 37-12 in the Senate earlier this year, and has been sent to the house. Please send a message to your legislators requesting a pro-life vote!
Women’s Right to Know Act: Ultrasound Access Bill
In addition to the legislation mentioned above, the PCC is also supporting a bill requiring that a woman be given the option to see her ultrasound and see/hear her unborn child’s heartbeat. This bill, HB 1077, was introduced in October with over 110 co-sponsors. The PCC hopes that this legislation will be considered early in 2012.