(PA Rep. Dawn Keefer is pictured)
The PA Catholic Conference is looking to rally support for HB 1827, which is sponsored by Rep. Dawn Keefer (R-York) and is better known as “Shawn’s Law.”
House Bill 1827 is now in the Senate Judiciary Committee. We are hoping there will be enough support from senators to bring it up for a vote in that committee and then the full Chamber. It increases penalties for individuals who encourage or aide minors or people with intellectual disabilities to commit suicide. As shocking as it may seem, the bill is actually based on an actual occurrence and has been referred to as “murder by proxy.”
Shawn Shatto was a resident in Keefer’s district who took her own life after she received step-by-step instructions on how to commit suicide in an online chat forum. Keefer said she was provided the instructions to make the poison to take her own life.
“Shawn did so and then contacted the forum members, saying she was scared to follow through with ending her life,” Keefer said about the incident. “At least one person in the forum told her that suicide was the best route and wished Shawn well on her journey instead of encouraging her to seek help.”
PCC Executive Director Eric Failing said the threat of suicide is now real more than ever.
“New data from the state Attorney General shows reports of suicidal threats and self-harm tendencies among Pennsylvania school children shot up after schools were closed in March,” Failing said. “This is likely to remain a serious problem, especially while COVID-19 remains a concern.”