A bill was introduced today in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives that would effectively ban second trimester abortions. House Bill 1948, introduced by Representative Kathy Rapp and Rep. Bryan Barbin, Rep. Bryan Cutler was introduced late to the House Health Committee Friday and this morning was fast track to the full assembly without a public hearing.
The cosponsors of HB1948 claim the bill is intended to prevent fetal pain and reduce complications of an abortion. But in this Trojan horse bill hides an agenda to ban ALL second trimester abortions.
HB1948 contains language that would rename the most common and safest 2nd trimester abortion procedure (dilation and evacuation, or D&E) as a “dismemberment” abortion and then would ban it’s implementation. Doing this would effectively ban all 2nd trimester abortions in Pennsylvania as they are currently performed. This part of HB1948 would limit doctors’ choices concerning first trimester procedures as well, since a D&E is not uncommon choice in the first trimester. Banning the safest available type of abortion procedure would NOT protect women from complications of abortion. On the contrary, HB1948 would increase the chance of complications after ending a pregnancy.
In addition, although the bill’s sponsors claim a fetus can feel pain at 20 weeks there is inadequate scientific evidence to conclude fetal brain development is sufficient to feel pain at that stage of development. The authors may cite Dr.Kanwaljeet Anand to support their claims. However, Dr. Anand’s findings have not been corroborated by any independent research; and remain an outlier in this area of study. In fact, a preponderance of the scientific evidence leads one to exactly the opposite conclusion. The majority of the scientific research on the subject of fetal brain development has found the neural pathways required to experience pain are not formed until at least 24 weeks gestation and more likely later.
Whether a fetus can feel pain at 20 weeks should be a moot point in the debate over second trimester abortion. For most women seeking an abortion after 20 weeks – that’s only 1.4 percent of all abortions performed – the abortion is needed because something has gone very wrong with the pregnancy (i.e. – it is not an elective abortion).
It is clear the cosponsors’ characterization of HB1948’s purpose is insincere at best. And rather than giving the people of Pennsylvania a thoughtful review of HB1948 and it’s very real and detrimental consequences, the Health Committee passed it to the general assembly floor for a vote without even 24-hours of consideration. This is just another attempt to slowly chip away at the right to terminate a pregnancy until that right completely disappears.
It’s time to call your state legislator and make your voice heard on House bill 1948. To contact your PA House Representative click here.
**Edited to note the D&E ban would affect first trimester procedures as well.