- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 13, 2017

The Democratic governor of Pennsylvania has promised to veto a bill banning abortions after 20 weeks’ gestation.

“This bill is an attack on women, and it should never have reached my desk,” Gov. Tom Wolf said in a statement Wednesday. “I will veto it, because all Pennsylvania women deserve to make their own health care decisions.”

The Republican-controlled House passed the legislation by a 121 to 70 vote Tuesday. It cleared the Senate earlier this year.

Deanna Wallace, staff counsel at Americans United for Life, said the bill protects “unborn children who can feel pain” and “mothers from the increased risks associated with later term abortions.”

“We urge Gov. Tom Wolf to sign this important legislation that protects both mothers and their unborn children from the harms of abortion,” Ms. Wallace said in a statement.

Abortion is not permitted in Pennsylvania after 24 weeks’ gestation, but there are exceptions when the life of the mother is at risk.

Proponents of the legislation said medical technology has improved to the point where children born at 20 weeks’ gestation can survive and live healthy, normal lives.

“An unborn child can live, is viable, at 21 weeks,” said Rep. Matt Baker, a Republican from Tioga, as reported by The Morning Call.

But the bill’s detractors question the constitutionality of limiting abortion to the first 20 weeks of pregnancy.

“Simply put, passage of Senate Bill 3 would eviscerate 43 years of due process protections,” said Rep. Dan Frankel, a Democrat from Allegheny, alluding to the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.

Some courts have struck down 20-week abortion bans as unconstitutional, but similar legislation has been allowed to stand in other states. Seventeen states currently prohibit abortion after 20 weeks’ gestation.

The U.S. House also passed a 20-week abortion ban earlier this year mostly along party lines, 237 to 189. The legislation would likely need 60 votes to clear a filibuster from Senate Democrats.

Mr. Wolf has 10 days to sign or veto the Pennsylvania bill before it becomes law.

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