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HARRISBURG — As Republican lawmakers advance bills to limit access to abortion in Pennsylvania, Gov. Tom Wolf has once again vowed to veto any such legislation that comes across his desk.
House Republicans this week passed a bill that would ban abortions on the basis of a prenatal Down syndrome diagnosis. The legislation requires doctors to submit documentation affirming an abortion was not performed for this reason.
If breached, the person who sought the abortion would not face criminal charges, but the doctor would face a third-degree felony and lose their medical license.
“Whenever an anti-choice bill comes to my desk, I will veto it,” Wolf said Thursday at a press conference in Philadelphia alongside state House and Senate Democrats as well as advocates from Planned Parenthood.
Wolf vetoed a similar bill in 2019, saying it was “a restriction on women and medical professionals and interferes with women’s health care and the crucial decision-making between patients and their physicians.”
Despite Wolf’s past rejection, Rep. Kate Klunk (R., York), the prime sponsor of the bill, said in a memo seeking support she will continue to push the legislation because “every child deserves and has the right to life and children with Down syndrome are no exception.”
House lawmakers this week also advanced a bill that requires health-care facilities to bury or cremate fetal remains after a miscarriage or abortion. Families can still make their own arrangements but must cover the cost.
Both bills passed after intense floor debates that involved Democrats and Republicans sharing personal stories. In Philadelphia, Wolf and the lawmakers assembled stressed that abortion is a personal choice.
“It is the right of women to decide whether or not they want to give birth to a baby,” Sen. Sharif Street (D., Philadelphia) said at the press conference. “It’s pretty simple.”
Wolf’s time in office is coming to an end, as he is term-limited, and Republicans are lining up to be the one to take the job. The Cook Political Report currently has the race listed as a toss-up, meaning Pennsylvania’s next governor could potentially be a member of the GOP who would sign abortion restrictions into law.
When asked about the possibility, Wolf said, “My hope is that Pennsylvania continues to have people in Harrisburg … who recognize that politicians have no place in the doctor’s office, making decisions for women.”
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