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Landmark PA Law is Under Attack as Abortion Totals Rise
Maria V. Gallagher
Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation | 16 February 2023
Pennsylvania has been a cornerstone of the struggle to restore legal protection for preborn children across the United States for decades. The Commonwealth, which is known as the Keystone State, led the way for protections for unborn babies with the passage of the Abortion Control Act in 1989. That law became the basis for the 1992 U.S. Supreme Court decision known as Planned Parenthood v. Casey. While the case fell short of overturning the tragic 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling, it did usher in an era in which states were able to pass meaningful legal protections for preborn children and their mothers.
The Abortion Control Act offered women a 24-hour reflection period, allowing them to consult with family members and clergy before undergoing an abortion. It also provided for a ban on late-term abortions and sex-selection abortions, along with parental consent and informed consent for abortion. For a generation, this law served as landmark legislation, duplicated in statehouses around the country.
With the High Court’s 2022 Dobbs decision, we have entered the post-Roe era. Sadly, some lawmakers in Pennsylvania want to turn back the clock on legal protections for preborn children and their mothers. A co-sponsorship memo is circulating for a bill that would repeal the Abortion Control Act entirely and replace it with something called the Bodily Autonomy Act. The proposal would wipe out common sense abortion restrictions which are supported by a vast majority of the public.
At a time when Roe has finally been relegated to the ash heap of history, pregnant women and their babies in Pennsylvania face new legal threats. This is why it is imperative that we educate people about the wisdom of protective laws such as the Abortion Control Act.
The attack on the Abortion Control Act comes at a time when, tragically, abortion totals are increasing in the Commonwealth. The number of abortions rose in Pennsylvania during 2021, according to figures released by the PA Department of Health. Every abortion is a tragedy, but the increase in the number of abortions in Pennsylvania is particularly disturbing.
Pennsylvania women deserve better than abortion. We need to invest more in services that empower pregnant women to make life-affirming decisions for themselves and their families.
Statistics show 33,206 abortions took place in Pennsylvania in 2021, an increase of 1,083 abortions over the 2020 total of 32,123. Imagine how many kindergarten classes the number 1,083 represents. We mourn the loss of these precious children, who never got the chance to see their mother’s face.
The upsurge in abortion totals appears to be driven by the ever-rising number of chemical abortions, which now outnumber surgical abortions. The Department of Health states that 322 reports of complications from abortions were recorded in 2021—a dramatic increase of nearly 35 percent over the previous year’s totals. Why are so many complications being reported? This is a public health problem that deserves immediate attention from Health Department officials.
The number of abortions in Pennsylvania would be much higher were it not for Pennsylvania’s groundbreaking Pregnancy and Parenting Support Program, which provides comprehensive counseling and support for women facing unexpected pregnancies. The program, administered by Real Alternatives, has become a model for the rest of the nation.
The statistics would also be higher were it not for the many other pregnancy resource centers throughout Pennsylvania, which offer everything from diapers to daycare referrals, and from mentoring to maternity clothes to pregnant women in need.
The pro-abortion movement, which claims to represent the voice of women, would like to see pregnancy resource centers shuttered. This flies in the face of their stated objective of helping women. Nothing can be less helpful to women than to take away their means of support. In Pennsylvania alone, more than 300,000 women and their families have been assisted by the Pregnancy and Parenting Support Services program.
Thankfully, the Pennsylvania State Senate stands as a firewall against pro-abortion initiatives coming from a hostile PA House of Representatives and Governor’s Office. The upper chamber will no doubt be playing defense against what is expected to be a flurry of pro-abortion legislation coming from the PA House.
Pennsylvania has certainly been a bellwether in the past when it comes to the cause of life. While rural PA is strongly pro-life, the big cities of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh are abortion magnets. With the advent of widespread chemical abortions, the abortion industry in PA is stepping up its marketing, trying to expand abortion even further in the land that the founding fathers once called home.
Thankfully, PA is also home to a vibrant, energetic pro-life movement which stands ready to defend the most vulnerable among us—no matter what the political odds.