By Maria V. Gallagher, Legislative Director, Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation
The retired Marine Reserve Colonel looked out onto the chamber of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, on the verge of tears.
He proceeded to tell his fellow lawmakers that, when he dies, he only fears one thing.
“All I worry about is my son Eddie,” he said, emotion breaking in his voice.
Eddie died as a result of a miscarriage. When his father, Frank Ryan, went to claim his remains at the hospital, he was told they were already gone.
Ryan imagines what Eddie might say to him in the next life:
“Why weren’t you there to protect me, Dad?”
Representative Ryan, a Republican from Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, had come to the House floor to ask for votes for a bill that would ensure that the remains of babies who are miscarried or aborted in Pennsylvania are treated with respect.
The measure, known as House Bill 1890, would require medical facilities and abortion centers to allow parents the opportunity to have the bodies of their unborn babies buried or cremated.
Rep. Ryan and his wife never had that opportunity with Eddie. That is why Rep. Ryan was willing to fight so hard for HB 1890.
Pro-abortion lawmakers were dismissive of Rep. Ryan, claiming his motives were political, and his bill a back door attempt to limit access to abortion.
But Rep. Ryan’s motivation was one of public interest spawned by personal pain. And he sees nothing political in efforts to ensure respectful interment of fetal remains.
One pro-abortion lawmaker had the audacity to refer to the remains of an unborn baby as “embryonic tissue.” As if Eddie was just a mass of medical waste.
Meanwhile, many parents have come to Rep. Ryan’s defense, saying the legislation is sorely needed.
In the end, the vast majority of PA House members agreed, passing the bill by a margin of 123-76. A number of Democrats joined with every Republican member present in approving the bill. The measure is now pending in the PA Senate.
Three of Rep. Ryan’s children died through miscarriage. As he told his fellow lawmakers, “It affected me in ways you can’t possibly imagine.”
Rep. Kathy Rapp, a Republican representing Warren, Crawford, and Forest Counties, had a ready response to those who claimed Rep. Ryan’s bill was “disrespectful” to women.
“This is a compassionate bill—it pays the greatest respect to mothers and fathers,” Rep. Rapp said.
Meantime, Rep. R. Lee James, a Republican serving Venango and Butler Counties, said after the vote, “I thought Rep. Frank Ryan defended his bill beautifully against a feeble attempt to embarrass him. It was a common sense, charitable vote for grieving families.“