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Pennsylvania Republicans unveil 'heartbeat' anti-abortion bill

Pennsylvania on Monday became the 19th state to introduce a “heartbeat” bill, banning abortion once a fetal heartbeat has been detected.

The Republican-led state legislature introduced the bill requiring all doctors to determine if a fetal heartbeat could be detected before performing an abortion. If a doctor found a heartbeat, a woman could only have an abortion if her health was at risk. Republicans Sen. Doug Mastriano and Rep. Stephanie Borowicz made good on their promise to introduce the legislation they said will take on Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision which legalized abortion.

"There's something really wrong here," Mastriano said, according to Fox 43. "Something nefarious is going on. We turn our backs on the most vulnerable; those who don't have a voice. And let them be massacred in the womb. We're talking about the stats of the federal government 60 million abortions since Roe v. Wade was legalized in the '70s."

“When you hear a baby’s heartbeat, everything changes,” Borowicz told reporters, according to Penn Live. “If you can be declared dead when the heart stops, why not declared alive when it starts?”

The Supreme Court is seen in Washington. Abortion rights is one issue for the Supreme Court to tackle.

The Supreme Court is seen in Washington. Abortion rights is one issue for the Supreme Court to tackle. (Associated Press)

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Currently, state law permits abortions up to 24 weeks of pregnancy. Some questioned if the bill’s restrictions went too far as many women do not know they are pregnant until the six to eight week time frame when a heart starts beating.

“I didn’t know until 8 weeks with my first son, yeah that life is saved," Borowicz responded. "I see it differently than how you’re seeing it, that these ladies then don’t have the choice to get an abortion, I see it as then these ladies have the ability to have their child. That child’s saved.”

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Democratic Governor Tom Wolf has promised to veto any anti-abortion legislation he finds on his desk."Let me be clear: I will veto any abortion ban that is put on my desk. The latest bill, a six-week abortion ban, defies all practical understanding of modern women’s health care," Wold said in response to the heartbeat legislation.

In 2017 he vetoed anti-abortion legislation which was far less severe. The 2017 bill that passed both chambers of the Pennsylvania legislature aimed to change the cutoff for abortion procedures to 20 weeks and ban a technique called “dilation and evacuation” in which doctors use forceps to remove a fetus.

In May of 2019, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed legislation outlawing abortions that were linked to a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome, but the legislation never made its way through the senate.

Eighteen states have either introduced or passed a heartbeat bill. Such bills have passed in Ohio, Georgia, Mississippi, Missouri and Iowa, but none have gone into effect because they’ve either been vetoed or struck down in court.

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Heartbeat bills in both chambers of the Pennsylvania legislature will head to committee next for hearings before a vote.

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