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Sebastian's Point

Sebastian's Point is a weekly column written by one of our members regarding timely events or analysis of relevant ideas, which impact the Culture of Life. All regular members are invited to submit a column for publication at Columns should be between 800 to 1300 words and comply with the high standards expected in academic writing, including proper citations of authority or assertions referred to in your column. Please see, Submission Requirements for more details.

Legal Assault on Pennsylvania's

Abortion Control Act

Maria V. Gallagher  |  27 October 2021

Lawyers representing the abortion industry are seeking to strike down Pennsylvania’s long-standing ban on taxpayer funding of abortion. The attorneys filed a brief with the PA Supreme Court, asking the High Court to abolish the Keystone State’s ban on Medicaid abortion funding in a case called Allegheny Reproductive Health Center v. Pennsylvania Department of Human Services.  


Not only does Big Abortion want Pennsylvania taxpayers to foot the bill for abortion, but the abortion industry is also calling on the state Supreme Court to establish a so-called right to abortion under the PA Constitution.


Pro-Abortion Claim is Off-Base

This plea by abortion businesses flies in the face of precedent. In 1985, the PA Supreme Court ruled that the Medicaid funding ban was Constitutional in the case Fischer v. Department of Public Welfare. The abortion industry is brazenly calling for a court order which would overrule that common sense court decision.


In addition to launching taxpayer funding of abortion, Big Abortion wants abortion recognized as a “fundamental right” under the Pennsylvania Constitution.  This is despite the fact that there is nothing in the text of the PA Constitution that recognizes that right. Nor is there anything in the history or traditions of our Commonwealth that supports a right to abortion.  In fact, abortion was banned in Pennsylvania prior to and at the time of the adoption of the constitutional provisions that are now relied upon by Big Abortion to claim that such a right exists.


Pennsylvania law states that “since it is the public policy of the Commonwealth to favor childbirth over abortion, no Commonwealth funds and no Federal funds which are appropriated by the Commonwealth shall be expended by any State or local government agency for the performance of abortion…”  


Americans Oppose Taxpayer Funding of Abortion         

National public opinion polls consistently show that the vast majority of Americans do not want their hard-earned tax dollars to pay for abortion—the taking of an innocent, unrepeatable human life.


Furthermore, Medicaid-funded abortions represent an egregious exploitation of the poor. Such a policy does not address the true needs of low-income women but rather simply provides them with a cold-hearted offer to abort their precious offspring. It is also highly discriminatory, with minority women disproportionately represented among the low-income population.


Commonwealth Court Sides Against the Abortion Industry

The PA Commonwealth Court previously ruled against the abortion industry in the case, saying abortion operations lacked standing and that the 1985 state Supreme Court decision should hold.


The Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation has filed an amicus brief calling on the state Supreme Court to reaffirm its prior well-reasoned decision in Fischer and to uphold the Commonwealth Court's decision.


Abortion Control Act in Danger

The Allegheny case threatens our time-honored Pennsylvania Abortion Control Act. The Act, which the U.S. Supreme Court largely upheld in Planned Parenthood v. Casey in 1992, provides a number of common-sense protections for preborn children and their mothers.


 These include:

  • Informed consent, meaning a woman must be offered information about alternatives to abortion and the risks of abortion before an abortion takes place;

  • Parental consent, meaning that at least one parent must provide permission before a minor girl seeks an abortion;

  • 24-hour waiting period, or a reflection period, allowing the woman to consult with family members, friends, and other trusted advisers before an abortion can occur.

  • A ban on sex-selection abortions, meaning that a woman cannot obtain an abortion just because she’s having a girl and wanted a boy, or vice-versa.


Before the Abortion Control Act went into effect in 1994, the total number of yearly abortions in Pennsylvania were about double what they are now. The law is therefore credited with helping to cut the Commonwealth’s abortion rate in half.  


If the state Supreme Court sides with the abortion industry, the Abortion Control Act would be wiped out. So would Pennsylvania’s Abortion Center Regulation Law, which ensures that abortion facilities meet basic health and safety standards. Before that law went into effect, hair and nail salons were more closely monitored than abortion centers.


Constitutional Amendment May Be Key

In light of the grave circumstances posed by the Allegheny case, advocates for common-sense abortion laws believe the best hope for safeguarding protections for preborn babies and their mothers may be an amendment to the Pennsylvania Constitution. Constitutional Amendments in PA must pass both chambers of the General Assembly in two consecutive sessions, then be placed on the ballot for voters to decide. A Constitutional Amendment does not require a Governor’s signature, so such a measure can be passed without interference from Pennsylvania’s pro-abortion Governor, Tom Wolf.


We do not want to see the state Supreme Court turn back the clock on hard-fought protections for Life. That is why a Constitutional Amendment may be critical to saving lives and safeguarding the well-being of women in the Keystone State.

Maria V. Gallagher

Legislative Director

Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation

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