HARRISBURG, Pa. (ChurchMilitant.com) - A bill banning abortion after 20 weeks gestation is advancing in the Pennsylvania Senate. In a 9–5 vote Monday, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved the bill, with all Republicans voting yes and all Democrats voting no. House Bill 1948, which passed in the House last month, also bans dismemberment abortions in the state.
Pennsylvania currently allows abortions up until 24 weeks of pregnancy, which, at the time the law was enacted, was considered the point of viability. But thanks to modern medical advancements, more unborn babies are able to survive at earlier stages of development outside the womb. The bill's sponsor, Rep. Kathy Rapp, said the new law is in keeping with modern medical opinions, which move the point of viability to 20 weeks.
Science has also proven that babies can feel pain after 20 weeks' gestation, especially during dismemberment abortion procedures that literally tear the baby apart limb from limb while alive. Rapp denounced such abortions, saying, "In the state that's leading the way for dramatic, life-preserving surgeries for the smallest lives, we're going to end the inhumane practice of dismemberment abortions, which tears a living human being to pieces."
House Bill 1948 would also ban dismemberment abortions, joining the growing number of states that have passed similar bans. Maria Gallagher, legislative director of the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation, says about 1,550 babies are killed in Pennsylvania each year by dismemberment abortions.
The bill is similar to the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which has become law in 12 states: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
On the Pennsylvania House floor in June, Rapp asked fellow members of congress, "We cannot diminish one category of human life, the unborn, without diminishing the value of human life. What is the value of human life?"