Senate Committee Prepares to Consider Unconstitutional Abortion Ban

Posted on June 13, 2018

CONTACT: Sari Stevens, Planned Parenthood
717-234-3024 | [email protected]

Senate Committee Prepares to Consider Unconstitutional Abortion Ban

Reports indicate vote is being considered because House Speaker has tied up measure designed to help victims human trafficking; demands abortion ban vote in tradeoff

HARRISBURG (June 12, 2018) — The state Senate Judiciary Committee may be preparing to bow to pressure from House Speaker Mike Turzia, R-Allegheny, who reportedly has threatened to hold up legislation designed to protect human trafficking victims until his unconstitutional abortion ban is sent to the full Senate for consideration.

The Senate committee could vote as early as Wednesday on Turzai’s measure (H.B. 2050), which would ban abortions based on a diagnosis of Down syndrome.

To get his bill considered, Turzai reportedly is blocking “safe harbor” legislation (S.B. 554) sponsored by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Stewart J. Greenleaf, R-Montgomery. That measure would immunize the child victims of human trafficking from criminal prosecution. Turzai added his controversial abortion ban as an amendment to the Senate bill. The Senate confirmed the action.

“I’m not sure you could get a better example of the dirty underbelly of politics than using the plight of exploited children to advance an unconstitutional abortion ban that will never become law,” said Sari Stevens, Executive Director of Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Advocates.

Reports indicate that the Senate committee may have caved, agreeing to allow a vote on Turzai’s bill in the Senate in return for him pulling his amendment from the Senate bill in the House — an appalling turn of events.

More than 100,000 children are exploited through prostitution in the United States each year, according to the legislative co-sponsorship memo for S.B 554. Adults psychologically manipulate these children and provide them illegal drugs. As a consequence, children have been charged with prostitution, loitering, and other offenses that are inherently related to prostitution.

“It is almost inconceivable that someone would try to exploit this situation to further an ideological political agenda,” Stevens said. “No one who acts like this can honestly say they support children.”

The House passed Turzai’s legislation, 139-56, in April, after moving it through the entire House legislative process in a little more than a week, an uncommonly rapid pace, without any public hearings and without support from any disability rights advocacy groups.

Measures like the bill Turzai introduced are widely unpopular. For example, in Utah — where 75 percent of the state identifies as Mormon and Republicans have won every presidential race by at least 19 points — 59 percent were opposed to a bill similar to H.B. 2050.

States that have passed similar measures face challenges and costly litigation, since laws that ban abortion pre-viability are unconstitutional. In Ohio and Indiana, where bills like this have been challenged, the measures have been enjoined as categorically in violation of a woman’s constitutional rights.



In partnership with the three Planned Parenthood affiliates in Pennsylvania, Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Advocates, the state public affairs office in Harrisburg, works to achieve maximum public, governmental and media support for reproductive health care – including family planning – by developing, implementing and facilitating a statewide strategy.

Share this story.