PA: Protect women’s rights, fight heartbeat bill

A proposed abortion bill is a danger to reproductive rights, even if it is not passed.

Flashback to 1972 — a woman was able to vote and divorce her husband, but couldn’t even make the critical decision whether she’s ready to have a child. 

It wasn’t until the United States Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade, decided in January 1973 that abortion was declared a right protected by the U. S. Constitution.

Despite this advancement, the U.S. is reverting into a theocracy, allowing religious bias to infiltrate political policies on abortion in recent years. 

This October, state Sen. Doug Mastriano (R., Franklin) and state Rep. Stephanie Borowicz (R., Clinton) proposed House Bill 1977 and Senate Bill 912, nicknamed “heartbeat abortion bills,” the Philadelphia Inquirer reported. The bills would limit a person’s opportunity to receive an abortion up until the time the unborn child’s heart first beats, which can be as early as six weeks into the pregnancy, Vox reported.

“The introduced six-week abortion ban legislation is yet another dangerous and unconstitutional attempt to ban abortion, this time before most people would even know they are pregnant,” wrote Dayle Steinberg, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Southeastern Pennsylvania, in an email to the Temple News.

As of right now, Pennsylvania permits abortions up to 24 weeks, or nearly six months into the pregnancy, unless the mother’s life is at stake, according to the Department of Health.

“Any bill that would limit access to healthcare is an issue of bodily autonomy,” said Grace Whittemore, a senior technical production and management major and the STARS coordinator of Feminist Alliance. “Many people have morals of what a fetus is, but we shouldn’t force someone to house somebody in their bodies.” 

Despite a Republican-controlled legislature, gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, reassured that he would not let this bill be signed and implemented, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

“[Wolf’s] notorious for being very pro-abortion, so it’s hard to work with him on any level,” said Karly Brown, a junior political science and psychology major and recruitment chair for the Temple University Students for Life, a pro-life organization. “That kind of attitude says that he’s not really willing to look at anything, and I think that’s definitely problematic and discouraging coming from the pro-life base because we’ve seen where abortion can hurt women.”

Wolf may appear stubborn and unwilling to compromise, but his steadfast opinion is warranted. Making abortion illegal before the baby is born can put the mother’s life in danger or push her to turn to dangerous and illegal alternatives, the Atlantic reported, and for that reason, it should be legal under any circumstance in every state. 

The move is especially jarring because one of the two legislators to propose the heartbeat bill is a man, like the majority of Pennsylvania’s state legislature, according to WESA, a Pittsburgh NPR station.

A legislature composed primarily of men shouldn’t have control over what a woman wants to do with her body. 

As a woman and a college student working two jobs, the idea of becoming pregnant and carrying a child for nine months is frightening. It’s reassuring to know that Pennsylvania likely won’t join the nine other states that have made this nightmare a reality, according to NPR.

Alaya Martin, a sophomore gender, sexuality and women’s studies major, learned they were pregnant at 17 weeks, far past the limit of the new proposed bill. They were able to have an abortion, but recognize this bill is dangerous and uses an arbitrary timeline.

“Six weeks? I mean, I’ve missed my period for six weeks, that’s such a microscopic amount of time within a life,” Martin said. “It’s so nuanced and there’s so many different life trajectories, and to put this sort of like neat and tidy limit on such a messy conversation — I just don’t think it’s appropriate, I think it’s an overreach.”

Roe v. Wade may have legalized abortion, but the fight isn’t over. Republicans and pro-life advocates will try to challenge it with similar bills, and we need more elected officials, like Wolf, to remain persistent against this opposition toward women and others affected by the dangerous anti-abortion policy.

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