On Monday, Pennsylvania’s Senate Judiciary Committee voted 9-5, a party-line vote, to cut abortions off at 20 weeks of pregnancy.
The legislation, which makes exception only for medical emergencies, would reduce the window for legal abortion in the state by four weeks. It has already passed the state House and now goes to the full Senate for a vote. A Senate Republican spokeswoman did not give a timetable for a floor vote.
20-week abortion bans are based in large part on the scientific evidence that preborn babies can likely feel pain by that stage in their development.
Democrat Governor Tom Wolf has threatened to veto the ban, declaring, “This is a bad bill for Pennsylvania and we cannot afford to allow it to go forward.” However, between the strong House vote and the number of Senate Democrats supportive of the bill, a veto override may be feasible.
Abortion advocates bitterly denounced the legislation as an election-year stunt and an infringement upon women’s personal decisions, to which Republican state Senator John Eichelberger responded that it is lawmakers’ duty “to put parameters in place … to protect the lives of the babies.”
Passage would make Pennsylvania the fifteenth state to limit abortion to pregnancy’s first twenty weeks.