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Down Syndrome Abortion Ban Passes PA House

Tim Lambert, WITF
Tim Lambert, WITF

HARRISBURG, PA (WSKG) -- State House lawmakers have passed a contentious bill that would make it a crime for doctors to perform an abortion for the sole reason that a fetus is diagnosed with Down syndrome.

The bill has been on a fast track, breezing through committee and initial considerations in one week.

It passed the chamber 139 to 56 with broad support from the GOP majority, and from some Democrats, too.

Many, like GOP House Speaker and bill sponsor Mike Turzai, frame it as a human rights issue.

"The testing is being used to just eradicate or eliminate that person...with that extra copy of chromosome 21," he said in floor debate.

Pro-choice lawmakers vehemently oppose the bill.

Delaware County Democrat Leanne Krueger-Braneky argued, if it was about protecting people with disabilities, amendments to increase disability funding wouldn't have failed repeatedly.

"This bill is just another unconstitutional abortion ban from the same legislators who attempt to roll back the right to a safe, legal abortion every single chance they get," she said.

Allegheny County Democrat Dan Frankel noted, there's precedent for arguing the bill violates the Fourteenth Amendment.

"We know that courts in Indiana and Ohio have stopped the enactment of very similar bans based on the diagnosis of Down syndrome," he said. "I believe that the courts will do the same here if [House Bill] 2050 becomes law."

The measure now heads to the GOP-controlled Senate. A spokeswoman said they haven't discussed it yet.

Governor Tom Wolf opposes it.