More Invasive Abortion Legislation Proposed in Pennsylvania House of Representatives
The Pennsylvania House of Representatives is set to pass a bill that further restricts women’s health clinics and intimidates women seeking abortions. It’s House Bill 1077, it was introduced by Rep. Kathy Rapp of Warren County, it has 112 co-sponsors and is similar to a bill passed in Texas that is currently being partially-blocked by that state’s Supreme Court.
“I’m shocked at the people whose names are on this,” says Rep. Babette Josephs of Philadelphia, a strong supporter of abortion rights. “They assume—all of them—that women are either childish, frivolous, brainless, stupid or evil.”
The bill requires all women seeking an abortion get an ultrasound at least 24 hours before their procedure, believing perhaps if a woman is able to see an image of the fetus and hear a heartbeat, she will change her mind. Exceptions are provided in the cases of rape, incest, medical emergencies and for fetuses that are less than eight weeks along.
Oddly, the bill is named “The Women’s Right to Know Act” and according to its own language, requires “certain reports to be filed with the Department of Health; imposing administrative sanctions and criminal penalties; and providing for remedies.”
“Many women are unaware of the state of development of their unborn child,” says the bill without citation. Therefore, all who seek an abortion in Pennsylvania will be required to, “[a]t least 24 hours before an abortion is to be performed, [get] an ultrasound test which produces an ultrasound image shall be performed upon the patient by or for the physician who is to perform the abortion or the referring physician.”
The 112 co-sponsors is enough to pass the bill through the House of Representatives.
Josephs believes this legislation is designed to further shut down women’s health facilities throughout the state. The bill is very specific about what physicians need to do (for instance, says Josephs, while the physician is providing the ultrasound, s/he is required to pay attention to the woman to see if she changes her mind about the abortion; not the results of the test) and if any rules outlined in the bill’s 17 pages are missed, “the attorney general is empowered to seek an injunction against the provider. And the injunction will shut down the facility,” Josephs says.
The bill has requirements for both the individual performing the ultrasound and the doctor who performs the abortion, perhaps to intimidate the woman into changing her mind each step of the way.
The individual performing the ultrasound test, reads the bill, will be required to, “Position the screen so that the patient is able to view the ultrasound test in its entirety, with a view of her unborn child, while that test is being conducted to determine gestational age,” although, “The patient is not required to view the screen.” And two prints, in separate envelopes, of the ultrasound image will be provided to the woman seeking the abortion and the doctor performing the abortion, though the woman seeking the abortion is not required to open the envelope.
The doctor performing the abortion must also tell the woman how old the fetus is and if its heart rate is normal.
Last week, hundreds of protesters showed up in Harrisburg against a series of bills that would tighten requirements on women’s health clinics. Harrisburg either hasn’t taken the hint, or have decided to tweek the nose of those protestors who got up in their business.
Similar bills have been passed in Louisiana, North Carolina and Texas. In some states, the bills have been held up either by the governor or the courts due to legal factors relating to the invasion of privacy.
“What I find profoundly insulting is that these men and women on this bill think their own voters, who they assume are smart enough to vote for them, can’t figure out what their own pregnancies are about and are too stupid…or evil to handle it themselves,” says Josephs. “If they can’t handle their own pregnancies, certainly they’re not qualified to vote for these people who are on this bill, and they should never vote for any of them.”