Puerto Rico Senate committee approves bill to protect unborn babies beginning at 22 weeks

By Dave Andrusko

The most important item out of “Puerto Rico steps into abortion restriction debate “ is the second paragraph of Danico Colo’s Associated Press story:

A recently introduced bill would prohibit abortions starting at 22 weeks, or when a doctor determines that a fetus is viable, with the sole exception being if a woman’s life is in danger. That is roughly in line with most U.S. state laws, though more limiting than Puerto Rico’s current status, which sets no term limit. (Underlining added].

There are “no term limits” in Puerto Rico! So “feminist groups” are “alarmed”.

The bill was passed 9-3 by a Senate committee last week. The full Senate had been expected to vote on the bill Monday “but instead kicked it back to the Committee on Life and Family Affairs following criticism about the lack of public hearings,” Coto wrote. Sen. Joanne  Rodríguez, who “is one of the senators who authored the bill, oversees that committee.”

If the bill is approved by the Senate, it would go to the House of Representatives.

There are ironies galore in Coto story. To begin with  the absence of limitations is not—not—supported by the people of Puerto Rico. 

“While many polls show majority support for abortion rights in many or most cases on the U.S. mainland, there are signs the opposite is true in Puerto Rico,” Coto reported. “Recent polls are scarce, but a 2017 survey by Pew Research found that about three quarters of people in Puerto Rico opposed abortion in all or most cases — a far higher percentage than among Puerto Ricans living on the U.S. mainland.”

Coto adds, “If Puerto Rico lawmakers approve the bill, they would join a growing trend of U.S. states restricting abortions.”

There were more than 3,700 abortions in 2020, a decrease from the 4,200  in 2018 , according to the latest government statistics. There are 3.2 million people in the territory.

Gov. Pedro Pierluisi is not taking a position. He says only that he favors public hearings “so that we can obtain input from all parties, including medical criteria. We must be careful in this matter, and it must depend on the greatest amount of analysis possible.”