Any time a pro-life legislator makes any kind of substantive move against abortion, you can be sure there will be a ton of resistance. Much of it will be from the left, but there will also be a fair amount of push back from those within their own ranks. Fellow lawmakers and advocates doubt the timing, the potency of the measure, and the electoral fall-out down the road.
It can be very defeating, especially for newer legislators. But Rep. Stephanie Borowicz (R-Centre, Clinton) and Sen. Doug Mastriano (R-Adams, Cumberland, Franklin, York), shut out the negativity and unveiled the Heartbeat Bill on Monday morning in the Capitol Media Center. House Bill 1977 and Senate Bill 912 would prevent an abortion if a heartbeat is detected in the fetus.
“Abortion is one of the most difficult topics to discuss in our nation, as it is tied to deeply personal and emotional issues,” Senator Mastriano said. “Yet, it is time that we have an open and honest discussion on this very difficult matter. Scientific and medical advances of the past 50 years have laid to waste the idea that the baby in the womb is simply a blob of tissue. It’s time for the discussion that includes a scientific and logical dialogue on this most important issue of our generation.”
“If a person is pronounced dead when their heart stops, why are they not considered alive when their heartbeat begins?” said Representative Borowicz. “Psalms 139: 13-14 makes it simple: ‘For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.’ At the most fundamental level, this heartbeat bill would effectively guarantee that future Pennsylvania children have the right to be born.”
Both legislators were kind enough to ask the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference for our help and support along the way. We were honored to stand alongside them and the several lawmakers and advocates that joined us onstage.
Eric Failing, the Executive Director of the PCC, was the first of the advocates from supporting groups to speak. He thanked all of those responsible for the bill for their work on behalf of all the Catholic bishops in Pennsylvania.
“I don’t know why this has become politicized,” said Failing. “I don’t know when that happened. It’s evil at work. We do know that. We only get one heart. If there are two, that’s two lives. It’s that simple.”
The Heartbeat bill is the latest piece of pro-life legislation to have some life at the Capitol. There are four other such bills in either the House or Senate.
- The Down Syndrome Protection Act passed the House right before the summer break and is waiting for Senate approval. The PCC supported that issue every step of the way.
- The Perinatal Hospice bill also got our support and passed the House in May despite stiff opposition from Democrats. It requires that information be given to a woman on the option of hospice programs in the event of a life-limiting condition with the baby.
- The Fetal Remains Bill would require that a health-care facility that possesses fetal remains provide for cremation or burial.
The opponents would quickly point to the fact that Governor Wolf has pledged to veto any pro-life bill that comes to his desk. In fact, he said just as much in response to the Heartbeat bill.
“I refuse to surrender,” Mastriano said. “I’m going to fight this ‘til my dying breath.”
“We know we have a socialist Governor,” Borowicz said. “But I’m here to do what’s right.”