Schlossberg votes no on dangerous abortion bill

HARRISBURG, June 21 – State Rep. Mike Schlossberg, D-Lehigh, today released the following statement after the House of Representatives passed a bill that would be the most restrictive abortion law in the country if it were to be signed into statute:  

"I stand in opposition to House Bill 1948, but I do so with great respect. I know my colleagues on the other side of this issue are sincere in their beliefs, and I think that this is something which sometimes gets lost during particularly controversial debates such as these. 

"Now, that does not mean we agree on legislation such as this. In fact, on this matter, we disagree on the effects this bill will have. My opposition to this legislation is largely based on this one medical truth: The dilation and evacuation procedure which would be banned by this legislation is the safest used in terminating a pregnancy after the first trimester.

"In outlawing this procedure, patients and doctors will be forced to seek alternatives, alternatives which are less safe. According to a study done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, alternative procedures are shown to have 3-4 times greater risk for complications. Thus, the impact of this legislation is clear: It will put the lives of women at risk. 

"More than 40 years ago, the Supreme Court recognized 14th Amendment protections for a woman’s right to decide whether to continue or end a pregnancy. More than 20 years ago, the Supreme Court reaffirmed the basic holding of Roe in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. Even in debating this decision, I firmly believe our obligation as legislators is to ensure the best care for a woman who chooses to exercise her constitutionally protected rights.

"A woman’s medical decisions should be between a woman and her doctor. No one else. The decision about what procedures are available should reflect the best course of care and best medical treatment available for the medical circumstances a woman faces. The safety of the patient needs to be first. 

"I find it difficult to break from this basic principle.  Yet, the criminalization of dilation and evacuation procedures puts government exactly where it does not belong: In the treatment room, between a woman and her doctor.

"I understand the heated nature of this debate. I respect the sincerity of the pro-life perspective. But I have always been under the understanding that the pro-life movement reflected not only a desire to stop abortions, but to protect the life of a mother.

"I cannot help but observe that lives of women will be put at risk if House Bill 1948 goes into effect. This legislation is opposed by scores of medical professionals, the Pennsylvania Medical Society, the American Academy of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and more. When all medical professionals who have weighed in on a medical issue object to legislation in question, I would argue that we need to reconsider the proposed law. 

"The House is supposed to be a deliberative body. We wrestle with issues, exploring the potential outcomes and effects of legislation on which we will vote. We hold hearings. We review literature. We seek feedback and direction from experts. We look to those charged with implementation to guide us. Yet, on House Bill 1948, we are being asked to vote on a piece of legislation with no public hearings or testimony to learn about the consequences and implications of our votes. Given the consequences of this legislation, I cannot help but think we have failed to adequately safeguard the lives of patients."