Gov. Wolf vetoes Pa. Republican abortion restrictions

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf holds up his signed veto of Senate Bill 3, legislation that would ban abortion after 20 weeks gestation, surrounded by supporters in the mayorÕs reception room, Philadelphia CIty Hall on Monday December 18, 2017.

Gov. Wolf on Monday vetoed a measure passed by the Republican-controlled legislature that would have restricted abortion rights, calling it a “vile assault on women’s ability to make their own decisions about their own health care.”

“Make no mistake about it,” Wolf said at a news conference at Philadelphia’s City Hall, Senate Bill 3 “is an attack on women. It’s an attack on their health, their freedom, their choice, their liberties.”

Wolf’s veto was something of an opening salvo in next year’s gubernatorial race. Republicans, including House Speaker Mike Turzai of Allegheny County and State Sen. Scott Wagner of York County, both of whom voted for the bill, are running to challenge Wolf, a Democrat, in November. The state GOP blasted Wolf on Monday as a “puppet of Planned Parenthood.”

Senate Bill 3 would have banned abortions at the 20-week mark of pregnancy, four weeks earlier than under current law. The measure provided some exceptions for emergencies like preventing the death of the mother.

It also would have restricted circumstances in which doctors could perform a common second-trimester procedure by prohibiting them from “knowingly and purposefully causing the death of an unborn child by means of dismembering the unborn child and extracting the unborn child one piece at a time from the uterus through the use” of various instruments.

The bill’s authors referred to this method as “dismemberment abortion,” a nonmedical term. Federal judges have issued injunctions against such bans in states such as Texas, Alabama, Kansas, Arkansas, and Oklahoma, according to the National Right to Life Committee.

There was no public hearing featuring testimony from medical professionals as the Pennsylvania bill rocketed through the legislature.

The bill passed the House last week, 120-70, and the Senate in February by a vote of 32-18. Republicans in Harrisburg could try to override Wolf’s veto, but they appear to lack the two-thirds majority to do so. Still, the veto gave them partisan ammunition.

“Tom Wolf is a puppet of Planned Parenthood, the nation’s number one provider of abortions, and is going to gladly accept their special-interest money for more political favors,” said Greg Manz, spokesman for the Pennsylvania Republican Party.