Gov. Wolf, Mayor Kenney blast Senate-passed abortion bill

Gov. Wolf, Mayor Kenney blast Senate-passed abortion bill

Author: Jason Gottesman/Wednesday, February 15, 2017/Categories: News and Views, Philadelphia

Gov. Tom Wolf was joined in Philadelphia Wednesday by Mayor Jim Kenney, Sen. Sharif Street (D-Philadelphia), Rep. Brian Sims (D-Philadelphia) and abortion rights advocates to reiterate his promised veto of Senate Bill 3, legislation that passed the Senate earlier this month that would restrict abortions to only occur before 20 weeks and ban so-called dismemberment abortions in Pennsylvania.


“It is unconscionable, not only in the area of women’s health, but immigration,” said Mayor Kenney about recent actions taken by the Pennsylvania Senate in the areas of abortion and punishing so-called sanctuary cities.


A number of women who have had abortion-related experiences and a medical professional spoke against the legislation Wednesday afternoon. They were largely from a similar group who held a press conference last session asking for legislators to oppose the bill.


Wednesday, they asked the same thing of lawmakers in the House while also lamenting the fact that they were not allowed an opportunity to testify on the legislation before it passed in the Senate.


“I am grateful for the one element of control I had in an otherwise powerless situation: the decision to end our pregnancy and with it our son's pain and suffering,” said Erica Goldblatt Hyatt.


“This is the paradox, I learned, of being a mother: in my case, loving my son so deeply that it meant choosing to say goodbye. Though that choice rests on my heart every day, I know it was the right one for our family, and I am grateful to live in a state where our governor supports the rights of women like me to make it, autonomously, with those who know and love her best.”


For his part, Gov. Wolf doubled-down on his promise to veto the legislation should it reach his desk.


“I am not doing this to make a political point, I’m not doing this to actually highlight the difference between two groups in Harrisburg,” he said. “I am doing this because a veto is right, it is moral. Pennsylvania cannot afford to be a place where women cannot make their own health care decisions.”


The Philadelphia Commission for Women released a separate statement in opposition to the legislation.


"The PA Senate’s recent actions in quickly and quietly introducing and passing Senate Bill 3 is of major concern to the Philadelphia Commission for Women," said Chair Felicia Harris. "SB 3 would be disastrous for women and a deep setback for the reproductive rights we fought for with Roe v. Wade. The state legislature has sent a message that the elected officials in Harrisburg do not respect a woman’s Constitutional right to privacy that protects deeply personal health decisions."


Before the General Assembly recessed for budget hearings, Senate Bill 3 passed with bipartisan support and opposition. Three Republican Senators voted against the bill, while one Democratic Senator voted for the legislation.


The split resulted in the legislation passing without a veto-proof majority, despite Senate Republicans holding a numerical supermajority in the chamber.


Last session, similar legislation passed the House—where Senate Bill 3 currently awaits consideration—but that chamber then also failed to pass the bill with the needed two-thirds majority to override a veto.


Despite that, Speaker of the House Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) came out in favor of the House taking up Senate Bill 3—or companion House legislation, House Bill 77—and sending the proposals to the governor.


“It is important the legislature send one of these bills, Rep. Rapp’s House Bill 77 or Senate Bill 3, to Gov. Tom Wolf’s desk,” he said. “The passage of these bills is evidence of bipartisan and bicameral support to protect unborn children and mothers and demonstrates the Commonwealth’s commitment to promoting a culture of life.”


The House will not return to voting session until March 13.