The PA House and Senate are back in Harrisburg on Monday after a week away from full sessions. The Pennsylvania Catholic Conference will be watching a number of bills that we have been supporting, including three pro-life issues that will be up for second reading in the House. (There are three readings for each bill, with the final vote being taken on the third)
They include the Down Syndrome Protection Act—HB 1500 by Rep. Kate Klunk (R-York)—which would prohibit an abortion based solely on the diagnosis of possible Down syndrome. The bill passed both chambers in the prior session but was vetoed by Governor Wolf.
The second bill to be considered is the Unborn Child Dignity Act—HB 118 by Rep. Frank Ryan (R-Lebanon)—which would allow parents to make the final decision on the handling of the remains of their child, even if it is lost prior to birth.
The bills passed the House Health Committee last month along with the “Heartbeat Bill” – HB 904 by Rep. Stephanie Borowicz (R-Centre, Clinton), which would prohibit an abortion once a heartbeat is detected in the unborn baby. The passage sparked the usual outrage among pro-choice advocates. They actually held an immediate press conference and rally to reaffirm their commitment to “reproductive rights” for women.
Governor Wolf promised to veto any such measures that come to his desk. He also used his favorite word to label those who disagree with him—‘cowardly.’
“This legislation is a cowardly attempt to undermine reproductive health care and the right of Pennsylvanians to make their own family planning decisions,” he said at the pro-choice rally just mentioned. “While members of the legislature continue to play politics around health care choices, I will not let the commonwealth go backwards on reproductive rights or access to health care.”
It is a shame that during this time of division that a government leader, especially the Governor, would continue to use hateful rhetoric against people he disagrees with and call pro-life lawmakers ‘cowardly’ for acting on their beliefs.
Ryan’s bill was also singled out by Rep. Dan Frankel (D-Allegheny), Minority Chairman of the state House Health Committee, who said it requires burial and a death certificate after ending pregnancy loss or termination.
Except that it doesn’t.
The Pennsylvania Family Institute pointed out that “even Snopes, the fact checking site, said these claims by the abortion lobby are false. ‘Pennsylvania law does not require patients themselves to register fetal deaths, or file, obtain or pay for a fetal death certificate. The bill would not introduce such legal requirements.’”
Ryan has consistently refuted erroneous claims made by abortion advocates. He did so again Friday.
“When leaders mischaracterize efforts to bring comfort to those in pain, all I can offer is that we pray for that person who may be indirectly, and perhaps unknowingly, contributing to the pain of another,” Ryan said. “It is sad that a public figure, let alone a physician, would mischaracterize my bill in this manner and mislead the public about its purpose.”
Ryan reiterated that House Bill 118 would simply give grieving parents a choice and that it does not require action that would further traumatize them.