State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Mary Wilson covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.

House puts off vote on abortion bill

Written by Mary Wilson, Capitol Bureau Chief | Apr 11, 2016 7:08 PM
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A fast-tracked state House proposal to restrict abortions in Pennsylvania is slowing down.

A final House vote, previously scheduled for Monday, has been postponed indefinitely, according to the chamber's GOP spokesman, Steve Miskin. He said some members had asked for more time to review the bill.

The measure would ban most abortions in Pennsylvania after 20 weeks, while current law allows abortions until the 24th week of pregnancy. The proposal also bans a method of abortion known as dilation and evacuation, in which the fetus's body parts are removed. Anti-abortion lawmakers say they believe it would limit any pain felt by fetuses.

The vote delay came as Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, spoke at a Capitol press conference condemning the measure.

"Politicians are the last people who should be making decisions about women's pregnancies," said Richards. At the same event, Wolf reiterated his promise to veto the plan if it comes to his desk.

Three women also spoke about their experience terminating their pregnancies, at least one of them by way of a dilation and evacuation procedure, after learning of their unborn child's severe health problems.

Karen Agatone of Bucks County recounted the story of her pregnancy in 2015 - learning it was a girl, naming her Evelyn, and then receiving news at the 20-week ultrasound that her daughter had a severe kind of dwarfism that prevented her lungs from developing - a condition "incompatible with life."

"She could go all the way to term, only to be left gasping for the air that she would never breathe on her own," said Agatone. "She might live for a few hours or days, and she would be suffering the entire time. That was the best-case scenario for her."

Agatone and her husband chose to terminate the pregnancy, deciding that they could not plan for their daughter to have no quality of life.

"I want people to know that abortion is not about the unwanted, the unvalued, and the unknown babies of the world. Abortion is my story and what happened to my family," said Agatone. "The decision we made for Evelyn was because her life mattered to us and will always matter to us."

Published in State House Sound Bites

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