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Pa. Senate opts not to consider proposed abortion ban

Pennsylvania lawmakers in the state Senate on Wednesday opted against voting on any further legislation in the state's lame duck session, meaning a proposed abortion ban (HB 1948) will not be considered during this session, PennLive reports (Thompson, PennLive, 11/16).

The Pennsylvania House passed the measure, sponsored by state Rep. Kathy Rapp (R), in June.

Background

The bill would have banned abortion care after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Pennsylvania currently bans abortion after 24 weeks of pregnancy.

In addition, the bill would have prohibited a medically proven method of abortion and required in-person counseling with a medical professional before a woman could obtain most abortion care.

Under the bill, people who violate the restrictions could have faced third-degree felony charges. The bill included limited exceptions in instances when the woman's life is in danger or a major bodily function could be impaired. There were no exceptions for cases of rape or incest (Women's Health Policy Report, 6/22).

Latest developments

According to PennLive, lawmakers in the state Senate held a closed-door caucus on Wednesday, during which they voted not to consider any "substantive" legislation during the state Legislature's lame duck session. The abortion ban required a floor vote before it could have proceeded to Gov. Tom Wolf (D), who had pledged to veto it should it be approved.

Planned Parenthood PA Advocates and other abortion-rights supporters urged state lawmakers before the caucus to opt against considering the bill, PennLive reports. According to PennLive, abortion-rights opponents in the state are expected to continue pushing abortion restrictions when lawmakers return in January (PennLive, 11/16).