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Pennsylvania Governor vetoes 20-week abortion ban
Pennsylvania Governor vetoes 20-week abortion ban

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf [official website] on Monday vetoed [press release] a bill [text, pdf] that would have placed stricter limits on abortion.

The vetoed bill, SB-3, decreased the legal gestational age for an abortion from 24 weeks to 20 weeks. It also made the “dilation and excavation” method of abortion illegal, which the bill referred to as a “dismemberment abortion.” Further, the bill did not make any exceptions for cases of rape or incest.

Calling the measure “the most extreme anti-choice legislation in the country,” Wolf described the bill “an attempt to criminalize the decisions that women make about their own health care, and this legislation destroys health care options for victims of the horrors of rape and incest.” The governor’s office also stated the bill will “ban one of the safest methods of second trimester abortions, putting women at risk,” referring to dilation and evacuation.

Pennsylvania Senator Michele Brooks [official website], who introduced the bill, stated [co-sponsorship memo] that the change to 20 weeks was necessary due to advances in technology that resulted in a 40% to 70% chance of survival at 24 weeks, while the chance of survivial at 20 weeks or less of gestational period is 0%.

The bill received Senate approval [JURIST report] in February with a vote of 32-18, which left it two votes shy of the supermajority necessary to defeat Wolf’s veto. The bill passed [roll call] the House of Representatives on December 12 with a vote of 123 – 67 and was presented [bill history] to the Governor on December 13.