Local legislators blast governor for veto of abortion bill

Local state legislators have blasted Gov. Tom Wolf for vetoing legislation that would have restricted abortions in the Commonwealth.

Wolf vetoed the bill on Wednesday.

The legislation would have generally prohibited abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy and prohibited what supporters call “dismemberment abortion.”

“With the full backing of Planned Parenthood, the governor went out of his way to leave no doubt that he would veto this pro-life legislation,” State Representative Kathy Rapp (R-65) said. “However, the primary reasoning contained in his veto message that Senate Bill 3 provided no exceptions for rape, incest or endangering the life of the mother is disingenuous, untruthful and can be entirely disproved through a simple review of the Pennsylvania Abortion Control Act.”

In an op-ed to the Philadelphia Inquirer published on December 15 announcing the veto, Wolf noted that the bill was brought “to my desk without holding a single public hearing on it.”

“Senate Bill 3 is an assault on the doctor-patient relationship by politicians without medical or health expertise. Unbelievably, this cruel legislation bans abortion after 20 weeks and provides no exceptions for rape or incest. This bill criminalizes a medical procedure that doctors use to protect the life of the mother when tragedy strikes during a pregnancy.”

“I am extremely disappointed with the Governor’s veto and the misinformation that opponents have spread about the bill,” said State Senator Michele Brooks, who sponsored the bill and represents Columbus, Eldred, Southwest and Spring Creek townships in Warren County. “But my greatest disappointment is that we will be unable to protect so many babies in the future, who will never know the joy of living in this world.”

Rapp, citing the statute, indicates that state law still includes rape, increase and life of the mother provisions and said that “simply stated, Senate Bill 3 was introduced as an amendment to the Abortion Control Act and would do nothing to alter or remove these exceptions that are spelled out in this quarter-century-old statute.

“If signed into law, this legislation, based on major advances in science, medical technology and health care, would have specifically prohibited abortions after five months of pregnancy, recognizing the capacity of unborn children to feel pain and that health risks to the mother significantly increase after 20 weeks of pregnancy. In addition, Senate Bill 3 would have ended the barbaric practice of dismemberment abortion, which involves tearing a baby limb from limb and resulting in a likely slow and painful death.”

“These women deserve our support, and should not be maligned by politicians in Harrisburg,” Wolf wrote in the op-ed. “These women, not politicians in Harrisburg, should be making their own health decisions in consultation with their doctors and families.”

“I will not stand for these repeated attacks on women’s reproductive decisions,” Wolf concluded. “I will veto SB 3 because I stand with every woman in Pennsylvania who deserves to make her own health decisions. And I will veto any bill that puts a check on women’s rights in Pennsylvania.”

“The people who say this legislation is ‘radical’ and ‘cruel’ are the same people who believe it is acceptable to tear the arms and legs off a six-month-old baby in utero,” Brooks countered. “That’s cruel and radical.”

“Thanks to the latest advances in technology, a baby can survive outside the womb much earlier than 24 weeks,” Brooks added. “It is important to argue about facts, and not merely parrot the talking points of Planned Parenthood. My prayers are with the governor that one day his heart will soften and he will understand how horrific the dismemberment abortion procedure is.”

Rapp said that Wolf is “either completely ignorant about the exceptions already granted in the Abortion Control Act, or is blindly ignoring current law to further the agenda of Planned Parenthood, the world’s single largest abortion provider. Regardless, the governor’s deeply flawed arguments for vetoing Senate Bill 3 can never excuse his death-determining decision against countless innocent unborn children or the continued endangerment of the health and well-being of their mothers.”