On Tuesday, the Pennsylvania House Health Committee voted to advance three anti-abortion bills: one that would ban abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected, another that would ban abortions after a Down syndrome diagnosis, and a third that creates death certificate and burial requirements for both miscarriages and abortions. The legislation is expected to be voted on by the full Pennsylvania House of Representatives in early June.
“The anti-choice legislators in the Republican-controlled Generally Assembly cannot be allowed to run over women’s rights while refusing to tackle the issues women need us to address, like supporting mothers and their children after birth and decreasing the increasing rate of maternal mortality due to lack of access to health care and other resources,” said Democratic Rep. Morgan Cephas, who is also the co-chair of the Pennsylvania Women’s Health Caucus, about the proposed legislation.
Unfortunately, these bills are just part of the so-called “pro-life” movement’s latest legislative push to restrict abortion access. In recent months, politicians in states across the country have proposed, debated, and occasionally passed bills restricting abortion access—some states, including Texas and South Carolina, have passed near-complete bans on abortion.
It’s typical for legislation that heavily restricts abortion access to get tied up in the courts for years, but that’s actually not a problem for the anti-abortion movement—a large part of their reason for pushing to pass legislation restricting abortion access has been to find the right case to take to the Supreme Court in order to challenge Roe v. Wade. Earlier this month, anti-abortion advocates got their way when the Supreme Court announced that it would hear a case on Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban. The 2018 legislation, which aimed to ban all abortions after 15 weeks without any exceptions for rape or incest, was declared unconstitutional by lower courts at the time.
Although it’s likely that the Supreme Court won’t hear the case until the fall, abortion rights advocates are understandably quite concerned. After all, it’s no secret that one of the reasons behind Trump’s decision to nominate Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court was her conservative record on abortion and distaste for Roe. With Barrett’s confirmation, the conservative judges now have a 6-3 majority—so yes, now is the time to panic.
Luckily, in the case of Pennsylvania, Governor Tom Wolf has already vowed to veto all three pieces of anti-abortion legislation if they end up on his desk. “Politics do not belong in a doctor’s office, and there is absolutely no place for politicians to come between an individual and their doctor,” said Wolf during a Thursday press conference.