Borowicz introduces ‘heartbeat bill’ aimed at restricting abortion in Pennsylvania

A piece of legislation introduced by state Rep. Stephanie Borowicz, R-McElhattan, and state Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Franklin County, proposes a ban on abortions when a fetal heartbeat is detected.

Borowicz and Mastriano presented the proposed legislation on Monday at the state Capitol during a news conference and asked citizens and officials to support House Bill 1977 — “the heartbeat bill.”

“The heartbeat bill — it is pretty simple,” Borowicz said during a press conference. “If there is a heartbeat detected, no abortion can be performed, and that’s usually around six to eight weeks. When you hear a baby’s heartbeat, everything changes.”

Borowicz said the proposed legislation aims to “speak for those who cannot speak for themselves” and said it could be the “dagger in Roe v Wade.”

“God is the author of life, and from the moment of conception, he says that he knew us before we were in our mother’s womb,” she said.

According to Planned Parenthood, symptoms of pregnancy can show as early as a week after conception or until a few months into pregnancy. Some medical professionals and reproductive rights advocates think heartbeat bills amount to a near-total ban on abortions.

“Banning abortion at six weeks bans abortion before many people even know they’re pregnant,” Ashley Lenker White, executive director of Planned Parenthood PA Advocates said in a statement. “This bill is nothing but another unconstitutional attempt to ban abortion in Pennsylvania.”

Heartbeat bills have been introduced in state legislatures throughout the United States. When North Dakota’s “fetal heartbeat” law was enacted in 2013, it was the strictest abortion ban in the county; however, it was blocked from taking effect by lower courts and blocked in 2016 by the Supreme Court, blocking it permanently. Similar legislation has been proposed in in Louisiana, Missouri, Alabama, Georgia, Ohio, Utah, Mississippi, Arkansas and Kentucky.

Gov. Tom Wolf vowed to veto any abortion ban in Pennsylvania in a tweet on Tuesday.

“I don’t know if this will end up in the courts yet or not,” Borowicz told PennLive. “We’ll take this one step at a time, but as you can see, the momentum is building ... I believe that it will be able to be enacted as a law ... and I want Pennsylvania to be a part of this. The goal is to save lives.”

Marley Parish reports on local government for the Centre Daily Times. She grew up in Slippery Rock and graduated from Allegheny College.