Senate Republicans Set Up Abortion Fight on Eve of Budget Address

Senate Judiciary CommitteeSenate Republicans in the Judiciary Committee voted 10-5 on Senate Bill 3, a bill banning abortions after 20 weeks.  The vote comes the day before Governor Tom Wolf will be his budget address, and just 3 days after the bill was introduced.  

The bill’s prime sponsor is Senator Michele Brooks (R-Crawford).  

“As in current law, this limitation would not apply in situations where an abortion is necessary to prevent the death or impairment of a major bodily function of a woman,” Brooks wrote in her co-sponsorship memorandum.  

“In addition, this legislation would prohibit the practice of tearing a fetus apart by its limbs, also called dismemberment abortion,” the memo continues.  

The Judiciary Committee held session on Monday afternoon and voted to advance the bill 10-5 along party lines. The quick movement from referral on Feb. 2 to today’s hearing gave little time for public comment on the bill to members of the Committee.  

Governor Wolf said unequivocally that he will veto the bill if it gets to his desk.

“The Senate seems bent on pushing through the most radical and unconstitutional bill to prohibit a woman from exercising her own right to make decisions regarding her own health,” Wolf said in a video released after the Senate hearing.  

“It’s wrong, it’s unconstitutional, it flies in the face of everything I stand for, and I will veto it,” Wolf continued.  

“There’s a reason politicians want to fast-track this bill with little public notice, and then sneak it through the process during budget week, when they hope everyone is too distracted to notice,” said Sari Stevens, Executive Director of Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Advocates.

The Senate had the opportunity last year to pass a mostly identical bill that had already made it through the House but did not bring it to the floor. This year the Senate GOP has a veto-proof majority, provided every Republican supports the bill.  

The House passed the same bill in the previous session with 132 votes, just two shy of a veto-proof majority. 25 House Democrats voted for the bill (House Bill 1948) while nine Republicans voted against it.  

Despite GOP gains in the 2016 elections, the bill lost a net of two votes. All four of the GOP pickups came in districts where the incumbent supported HB1948, a net gain of zero. Both Democratic pickups happened in districts where the GOP incumbent voted yes.

To overcome a veto this time, House GOP leaders would need to bring home dissenting Republican votes – or convince enough Democrats to break from a Governor they will share a ticket with in 2018.

Wolf’s campaign also made the vote today an important part of his messaging over the last few weeks, sending out multiple emails and social media updates to supporters.

“Instead of listening to women, doctors, and the Supreme Court, they are rushing to vote on SB3, the most extreme anti-choice bill in the country,” Wolf said in one of these emails.  

The Pennsylvania Democratic Party has taken the vote as an opportunity to hit State Senator and gubernatorial hopeful Scott Wagner (R-York) for his sponsorship of the bill.  

“Harrisburg insider Scott Wagner is a prime sponsor of the strictest anti-choice legislation in the country that criminalizes abortion and drastically restricts a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions,” said Pennsylvania Democratic Party Executive Director Sinceré Harris.

PoliticsPA has reached out to Majority Leader Jake Corman and Wagner for comment on this story.  

Similar efforts have been taken up across the country, states like Ohio, Kentucky, and Florida.  Some have been enjoined by the courts, like in Texas.

It remains to be seen just how intent Republican leaders are to push the issue. In recent years, abortion-related bills have come up for votes in committee or by one chamber, but stopped before final passage. In some cases the bills died in the face of strong public opposition. Other times, it seemed moderate GOP leaders were more interested in placating conservative colleagues.  But with historic majorities in both chambers, and much more conservative leadership, the usual practice might stop being usual.

February 6th, 2017 | Posted in Front Page Stories, Governor, Harrisburg, Top Stories | 10 Comments

10 thoughts on “Senate Republicans Set Up Abortion Fight on Eve of Budget Address”

  1. Marie Lindenberger says:

    The cruel truth is that millions of women who have abortions not only regret it, even as it being performed on them, but also realize they are participating in killing their own child. Some women carry the anguish and guilt to their grave. It is the cruelest hoax that proponents could ever foist on their unsuspecting “sisters”. Abortions are NOT good for women!

  2. A Woman Who Votes says:

    If you don’t like an abortion, don’t have one. Period. Practice your religion all you want, it’s a free country, but DO NOT cram your personal beliefs down my throat or anybody else’s. With my own ears I’ve actually heard a Republican say that they don’t care what happens to a baby after it is born (even if it is thrown in a dumpster) but that baby has the “right” to be born. That’s not “pro life.” That’s just plain SICK.

  3. Hillary C says:

    Needless to say too bad all you abort fans weren’t aborted hahahahaha

  4. David Diano says:

    We need to abort these GOP Senators

  5. Beave Stannon, the Wire Hanger King says:

    Michele, you don’t actually care about the babies. Come on. Babies imply that they are born and out of the womb, you know, the point where your brand can give two shits about them.

  6. Guy says:

    Were talking 5 months here, I mean come on…5 months

  7. Michele M. Lucas says:

    Seems that Ms Taylor has “respect” for every one except the babies she doesn’t mind being killed! And taxpayers don’t pay for abortions? I do think so.

    Unreal that our Governor would support such a death for babies! Innocent babies who have NO say-so to live or die. What a shame for the state of PA.

  8. Skift says:

    When will the Senate Republicans denounce the Linda Small slaying Giant, the Pork from York, Scott Wagner? I heard that his MMA record is 2-0, his ex wife and daughter weren’t that worthy of an opponent.

  9. Union Thug says:

    [This comment has been removed for violating the comment policy, which states: “Criticizing someone’s ideas or job performance is in bounds. Personal attacks are not.”]

  10. Patricia Taylor says:

    I attended this sham of a so-called “hearing”. The prime sponsor could not be bothered to show up to answer questions! Republican male Senators had absolutely no concern for women and that came through loud and clear. Supposedly, they were concerned that “babies”, who MIGHT survive, were being killed—obviously the pregnant female was no more than an incubator. They also showed no respect for the decision of our SCOTUS by voting to pass a bill that is clearly in conflict with the SCOTUS’ decision or for the taxpayers, who will foot the bill for their ideology.

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