PA abortion bill advances

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- A Pennsylvania senate committee gives new life to a controversial abortion bill.

If it becomes law, Senate Bill 3 would lower the cutoff period for abortions from 24 to 20 weeks.

The Senate Judiciary Committee brought the abortion bill for a vote without a taking public comment first, and there are a few senators who had a lot to say about the lack of a public hearing.

Sen. Daylin Leach (D-District 17) said "I'm not talking about naming a bridge, I'm talking about a bill that has some controversy and some consequence in people's lives. It's very unusual to have a situation where we've had no hearings on this bill, and there's no one here who can answer any questions on this bill."

Monday's meeting to take a vote on moving the bill forward was open to the public, which some say is too litle and too late.

Sara Palmer, who opposes the bill, said "there are a lot of questions that I heard the senators ask, that couldn't be answered by themselves. I was incredibly concerned that the bill's sponsor and co-sponsor weren't there."

Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation legislative director, Maria Gallagher said "the bill has been around in some form for a long, long time, and so there has been a lot of comment and debate. I am so happy that the state legislature is moving forward."

Senate Bill 3 would not only make changes to  existing laws and lower the cut off period for an abortion from 24 weeks to 20, but also set restrictions on procedures and operating tools.

Sen. Stewart Greenleaf (R-District 12) said "it deals with the contingency, the integrity of the decisions of the Supreme Court in regard to viability issues. I believe it needs to be reviewed and changed. That's why I'm voting yes and why I brought up the bill."

Sen. Lisa Boscola (D-District 18) said "you're not going to tell a doctor what tools they can use to fix a heart valve, or what tools to use in brain surgery, but for some reason, we're trying to dictate what tools in this bill a doctor can use during a pregnancy. That's just insane."

Some argue whether making these changes should be up to legislators to debate.

Sen. John Eichelberger (R-District 30) said "we're not flight tower instructors we're not all sorts of things, we vote on lots of things here."

"I think that the legislators should focus on legislating, and leave the patient and physicians to do what patients and physicians do, which is make some pretty hard medical decisions," Palmer said.

An attempt by one senator to table the bill was unsuccessful. The bill now heads to a vote on the senate floor.

Governor Tom Wolf released a video stating what he thinks of the bill and the vote.

“The senate seems bent on pushing through the most radical and unconstitutional bill to prohibit a woman from exercising her own right to make decisions regarding her own health," Wolf said.

“It’s unconstitutional. Senate Bill 3 is moving forward without even a hearing, and I will veto if it gets to my desk," Wolf added.