By Maria Gallagher, legislative director, Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation
It may not make the list of top stories of 2013, but Pennsylvania continues to be a beacon of light in the cultural darkness created by Roe v. Wade.
Here’s just a sample of the legislative victories that have made the Keystone State a champion in protecting the most vulnerable among us:
* * No taxpayer funding of abortion under Obamacare–Act 13, which was passed by the PA House and Senate and signed by Governor Tom Corbett in 2013 (as House Bill 818), ensures that no taxpayer funding of abortion will occur in Pennsylvania in the health insurance exchange created by the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Research has consistently shown that abortion totals rise dramatically when public funding of abortion occurs. As a result, potentially tens of thousands lives may be saved—and thousands of women spared the harm of abortion—as a result of this landmark legislation.
* * Support for pregnant women and their families—Pennsylvania sparked a national movement when it started its own Alternatives to Abortion program years ago. The Commonwealth continued its commitment to pregnant women and their families by providing support to pregnancy help centers in 2013. Abortion rates in Pennsylvania would be much, much higher were it not for the comprehensive counseling and support provided by state-assisted centers and other pregnancy help centers throughout the Commonwealth.
* * Safeguarding women’s health and safety—Pennsylvania is now known as a national leader in the regulation of abortion facilities, after enactment of Act 122 in 2011. The legislation grew out of recommendations made by the grand jury in the case of Kermit Gosnell, the notorious West Philadelphia abortionist who was convicted of 1st degree murder for the deaths of three babies who were born alive, then killed, in what came to be known as Gosnell’s “House of Horrors.” Gosnell was also convicted of involuntary manslaughter in connection with the death of a female patient, 41-year-old Karnamaya Mongar, who died from an anesthesia overdose during an abortion. The grand jury noted that Gosnell’s squalid facility went uninspected for 17 years as a result of the pro-abortion political stands of former Governors Tom Ridge and Ed Rendell.
As a result of Act 122, abortion facilities must now undergo regular unannounced inspections and follow the safety standards of outpatient surgery centers. Five abortion centers in Pennsylvania have closed because they could not or would not meet these common sense safety regulations. The Pennsylvania House in 2013 approved a recommendation by the Gosnell grand jury to increase the penalties for impersonating a doctor. The legislation emerged following the revelation that a number of Gosnell’s staff members had no medical training at all. The bill—which passed the House by a unanimous bipartisan vote–will be considered by the PA Senate in 2014.
While we celebrate the life-saving legislative milestones in Pennsylvania and throughout the country that occurred in 2013, let us pledge that 2014 will usher in an era in which every year is remembered as “The Year of Mother and Child.”