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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
Proposed Amendment Threatens Babies & Moms in Pennsylvania
Maria V. Gallagher
Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation | 20 April 2023
She was only 26 weeks gestation when she was born—a tiny girl facing a myriad of potential health challenges. Spending some 100 days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, she proved herself to be a fighter against the longest of odds. Today, that baby girl is now a precocious toddler, with the uncanny ability to Facetime her relatives and send pictures of herself via text. The irony is that, if a proposed Constitutional Amendment passes in Pennsylvania, preborn babies of her same initial gestational age could be aborted.
House Bill 803 is a dangerous piece of legislation, promoted by Democrats in the PA House of Representatives with a radically pro-abortion stand. If approved, the Constitutional Amendment could conceivably end the Commonwealth’s long-standing protections for preborn babies in the later stages of their mothers’ pregnancies. Incredibly, the legislation could turn Pennsylvania into an abortion magnet where abortions would be permitted up to the moment of birth.
The appalling aspects of the legislation do not end there. The Amendment would wipe out Pennsylvania’s time-tested Abortion Control Act. That would mean an end to the 24-hour waiting period, which allows pregnant mothers to consult with their family, friends, and clergy members before an abortion takes place.
The Amendment would also mean saying goodbye to parental consent for abortions in Pennsylvania. When the Abortion Control Act went into effect in the mid-1990s, abortion totals quickly plummeted by half. Observers believe that the most likely cause of the decrease was the parental consent component of the Abortion Control Act.
In addition, the Amendment would mean an end to informed consent for abortions. That would mean that women would no longer be told the risks of abortion and alternatives to abortion prior to an abortion taking place. Pennsylvania’s ban on sex-selection abortions would also be nullified under the Constitutional Amendment.
Also, of great concern is what the Amendment would mean for Pennsylvania’s abortion center regulation law. That law passed the General Assembly in the wake of the Kermit Gosnell scandal in West Philadelphia. Gosnell was an abortionist who routinely and mercilessly killed newborn babies in his House of Horrors abortion facility. The grand jury in his case estimated he probably killed hundreds of full-term babies, but they could only bring criminal charges in a handful of cases because he had destroyed so many records.
Gosnell was ultimately convicted of murdering three newborn babies and of causing the death of a female immigrant patient, Karnamaya Mongar. He is now serving three consecutive life terms in prison.
The state legislature passed the abortion center regulation law to prevent other Gosnells from plying their grisly trade in PA. The law requires abortion facilities to maintain basic health and safety standards and to be subject to regular inspections by state health authorities.
Since the law went into effect, more than a half-dozen abortion centers closed their doors because they either could not or would not meet health and safety requirements. Prior to the law, hair and nail salons received greater scrutiny than abortion facilities. For instance, Gosnell’s abortion center was not inspected for an astounding 17 years. Without the law, it is feared that abortion centers will go uninspected, and women’s health and safety will be placed at tremendous risk.
The Constitutional Amendment must pass both the PA House and the PA Senate in two consecutive sessions before it could be placed on the ballot for voters to decide its fate. While the House is now under pro-abortion leadership, the state Senate remains under the control of pro-life leaders who have no interest in moving such a dangerous Amendment.
Still, residents of Pennsylvania are being urged to contact their state Representative and state Senator and urge them to oppose House Bill 103. Pennsylvanians who do not know who their lawmakers are, or who need contact information, are encouraged to contact the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation by emailing email@example.com.
The law serves as a teacher, and that is why it is so important for the Abortion Control Act to be preserved. The law has taught generations of Pennsylvanians that the Commonwealth has a compelling interest in protecting preborn babies in the latter stages of their mothers’ pregnancies. It has also taught women that they have a right to basic information about the development of their preborn child prior to an abortion taking place.
National public opinion polls have consistently shown that the vast majority of Americans oppose late-term abortions. It is unconscionable to take the lives of innocent children at any age—but it is most alarming when abortions occur past six months of gestation.
Pennsylvania deserves better than a Constitutional Amendment which would eliminate the hard-won protections that pregnant mothers and their children have experienced for decades.