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Life Amendment is Top Priority in Pennsylvania
Maria V. Gallagher | 11 March 2022
Advocates for life are working hard to achieve their top legislative priority in Pennsylvania in 2022 and 2023—passage of a Constitutional Amendment. The Life Amendment would ensure that there is no taxpayer funding of abortion nor any so-called “right” to abortion in the PA Constitution.
Senate Bill 956, which contains the language for the Amendment, has been reported out of the PA Senate Health & Human Services Committee. A floor vote by the full Senate could come at any time.
The Amendment is needed because of a lawsuit filed by the abortion industry. Unable to pass pro-abortion legislation in the PA General Assembly, abortion operations are trying to do an end-run around the legislature to the courts. In the lawsuit, abortion centers are demanding an end to Medicaid funding restrictions for abortion. Currently, Medicaid in Pennsylvania only pays for abortions in the rare cases of rape, incest, or if the life of the mother is at stake.
But the abortion industry is even going beyond taxpayer funding of abortion in its demands. It also wants to inject a so-called right to abortion into the PA Constitution. In her co-sponsorship memo for Senate Bill 956, Republican state Senator Judy Ward noted:
What the abortion industry is asking the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to do is to bypass both the legislative process and the Constitutional amendment process and to manufacture out of thin air a right to elective abortion and taxpayer funding of elective abortion, presumably during all nine months of pregnancy.
Various state high courts such as Kansas, Iowa, and Illinois have bypassed their legislatures and manufactured a right to abortion. Thus, in order to remedy or to prevent that outcome, various states have passed or are in the process of passing Constitutional amendments. Over the past ten years these include Tennessee (2014), West Virginia (2018), Alabama (2018), Louisiana (2020), Iowa (anticipated), and Kansas (anticipated.)
In order to prevent Pennsylvania’s abortion laws from being struck down, I am proposing a simple amendment to the Pennsylvania Constitution clarifying that there is no right to an abortion or abortion funding within Pennsylvania’s Constitution. This amendment is designed to maintain our laws regulating abortion and preventing the taxpayer funding of elective abortion.
If the PA Supreme Court sides with the abortion industry, Pennsylvania could lose its time-honored Abortion Control Act. That would mean no more protections for preborn babies in the later stages of a mother’s pregnancy. It would also mean an end to parental consent for abortion, informed consent for abortion, and 24-hour waiting periods for abortion.
Moreover, if the Supreme Court invents a “right” to abortion in the PA Constitution, the Keystone State could lose its decade-old abortion center regulation law. That would mean no more regular state inspections of abortion facilities. Hair and nail salons would receive greater scrutiny than abortion centers in the Commonwealth.
The state legislature passed the abortion center regulation law in response to the massive tragedy perpetrated by West Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell. A grand jury suspected Gosnell of taking the lives of hundreds of newborn babies in his “House of Horrors” abortion facility. Gosnell was ultimately convicted of murdering three newborns and causing the death of a female immigrant patient, Karnamaya Mongar. He is now serving three consecutive life terms in prison for his crimes.
At the time when his illegal activities came to light, Gosnell had not had his abortion center inspected for 17 years. The grand jury in his case blamed the pro-abortion political stance of former Pennsylvania Governors Tom Ridge and Ed Rendell for the lack of oversight. The Gosnell case became the subject of national attention through a book and a movie exposing his crime spree.
Pro-life lawmakers in Pennsylvania, incensed by the Gosnell case, passed the abortion center regulation law in the hope of preventing “future Gosnells.” The law includes regular inspections of abortion facilities. A recent analysis of the Pennsylvania Department of Health inspections showed that the majority of 17 free-standing abortion centers in the Keystone State failed inspection in 2021.
Without the Constitutional Amendment, women throughout Pennsylvania could again be subject to completely unregulated abortion facilities. That is why the Constitutional Amendment is so vitally important. It must pass both the PA House and Senate in two consecutive sessions before it can be placed on the ballot for voters to decide.
As a result, the campaign to enact the Constitutional Amendment is the most important legislative effort in Pennsylvania since the enactment of the Abortion Control Act way back in 1989. It is an historic undertaking to ensure common sense abortion policy in the Commonwealth.
If you live in Pennsylvania, the time is now to contact your state Representative and state Senator and urge them to support the Constitutional Amendment. You can do so conveniently online at https://oneclickpolitics.global.ssl.fastly.net/promo/3jl .
Maria V. Gallagher
Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation