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Fighting for Life in Pennsylvania Post-Roe
Maria V. Gallagher
Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation | 14 July 2022
When the U.S. Supreme Court tossed Roe v. Wade into the ashbin of history, it also overturned the 1992 decision known as Planned Parenthood v. Casey. That case originated in the Commonwealth I now call home, Pennsylvania. The case was the Keystone State’s attempt to overturn Roe a generation ago. Now a new generation of Pennsylvania pro-life legislative leaders have come to the fore. Among them is state Rep. Kate Klunk (R-Hanover), who decries the discredited claim that pro-life advocates are not concerned about babies once they are born.
“I believe one of the universal core values of government is the protection of its citizens: born and unborn,” Klunk said. “As co-chair of the Pro-Life Caucus, I will continue to promote legislation that protects the unborn while also valuing women’s health, improving children’s access to health care, supporting schooling, job training and other important programs that lead to opportunity and good quality of life for all.”
Klunk has served as a prime sponsor of the Down Syndrome Protection Act—legislation that would bar abortions based on a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome. The bill would now be law, were it not for the opposition of Pennsylvania’s pro-abortion Governor, Tom Wolf. But there is hope that Pennsylvania’s next Governor will be one who defends the sanctity of innocent human life.
Meanwhile, Klunk is applauding the Supreme Court for righting a wrong committed in 1973 with the tragic Roe decision.
“I feel that the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade is prudent. Allowing states the autonomy to create health care laws that best fit its residents is in line with the driving principles our founders used to draft and pass the federal Constitution. I look forward to robust discussion on this issue as we consider Pennsylvania’s plans moving forward,” Klunk stated.
Preborn children in Pennsylvania are protected after 24 weeks gestation. The Commonwealth’s landmark Abortion Control Act also provides for parental consent, informed consent, a sex selection ban, and a 24-hour waiting period for abortion.
Meanwhile, in light of the Dobbs decision, the Speaker of the Pennsylvania House, Bryan Cutler (R-Lancaster) and House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff (R-Centre/Mifflin), issued the following joint statement:
“(June’s) Supreme Court ruling reestablishes the authority of states to regulate abortion. The ruling once again makes clear it is the authority of individual states to establish laws that are in the best interest of their residents.
It is important to point out Pennsylvania’s Abortion Control Act remains in effect, and places firm restrictions on abortions in our Commonwealth including a ban on all late-term abortion procedures.
This ruling presents a necessary opportunity to examine our existing abortion law, and discussions around possible changes are already underway.”
Foremost among the legislative priorities for Pennsylvania is a proposed Constitutional Amendment. The Amendment would ensure that there is no taxpayer funding of abortion, nor a so-called “right” to abortion, under the PA Constitution. The campaign for a Constitutional Amendment comes amidst a lawsuit filed by the abortion industry in state court. Unable to pass pro-abortion legislation in the General Assembly, pro-abortion forces turned to the courts to attempt to pass a pro-abortion edict by judicial fiat.
The Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania actually ruled against the abortion industry, arguing, in part, that abortion centers did not have legal standing to file suit. The request for taxpayer funding of abortion also contradicts a 1985 court ruling upholding Medicaid funding restrictions on abortion. But the abortion industry appealed the Commonwealth Court ruling to the state Supreme Court.
If the Pennsylvania Supreme Court rules in favor of the abortion industry, Pennsylvania could lose its time-tested Abortion Control Act. Without any restrictions on abortion, the Keystone State would become another New York, with abortion legal up to the moment of birth. The only legal recourse available, then, would be the Constitutional Amendment. The Amendment must pass both the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and the state Senate in two consecutive sessions, before it can be placed on the ballot for voters to decide.
It is indeed ironic that, at the very moment pro-life advocates across the nation are celebrating the overturn of Roe, advocates for life in Pennsylvania are embarking on the most challenging legislative fight in a generation. This is why it is critically important for Pennsylvanians to contact their state representatives and state senators in support of the Constitutional Amendment. Without the Amendment, abortions would likely skyrocket in Pennsylvania.
In 2020, the latest year for which statistics are available from the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Pennsylvania recorded more than 32,000 abortions. Just think of how many kindergarten classes that would entail. Pennsylvania must act now to prevent becoming an abortion haven, where abortion businesses work to draw women from neighboring states for unregulated abortion.
If you live in Pennsylvania and want to learn more about the Constitutional Amendment, please visit our website at www.paprolife.org . Now is the time for action—not only on behalf of precious babies, but for their mothers as well.