No vote on controversial abortion bill this week

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HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Despite speeding through committee meetings and onto the state House floor in ten days, as well as initial plans to vote on the bill Monday, a controversial abortion bill will instead sit idle for the rest of April.

No immediate reason was given as to why House Bill 1948, which would ban abortions in Pennsylvania after 20 weeks into a pregnancy, will not be voted on in the state House this week.

Wednesday is the last session for the House until May 2.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Kathy Rapp (R-Warren), drummed up controversy across the state over the last week, not only for its language but its expediency. Currently, Pennsylvania is among 38 states with laws which limit abortions at 24 weeks into a pregnancy or later. If the bill is passed, Pennsylvania would join North Carolina and Mississippi as the only states with 20-week limits.

Introduced on Friday, April 1, the bill was voted on in committee on Monday, April 4, moved to House chambers for a vote on second consideration Wednesday, April 6, and was scheduled for a final passage vote on the next session day, Monday, April 11.

Governor Tom Wolf has stated, if the Republican-controlled House and Senate pass the legislation, he will veto it.

At a press event at the state Capitol on Monday, Wolf joined numerous Democrat colleagues, as well as Planned Parenthood representatives and other bill opponents to voice their concern over HB1948.

"We have an obligation to stand up for Pennsylvania's women and shed light on something being done in an underhanded way," said Rep. Dan Frankel (D-Allegheny).

Frankel accused the Republicans of forcing the bill through the House without any public hearings, a claim denied by House GOP spokesperson Steve Miskin.

"Anyone at that hearing knows they were fully prepared for the legislation," Miskin said. "For anyone to say they weren't prepared, it's false, and they're trying to create a red herring."

The speed of which the bill moved through has come into question. Similar controversial health-related bills, such as SB3 which would legalize medical marijuana, sat idle in the House Health Committee for two months before it was transferred to the Rules Committee. All told, by the time it was voted out of the House chambers, ten months had passed.

"It wasn't fast tracked. Discussions on this legislation have taken place for almost a year," Miskin said, before saying issues surrounding the lengthy state budget impasse grabbed the headlines.

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