On June 7, #SummerTeam16 headed to Harrisburg for its first rally of the summer to educate Pennsylvanians on the facts of late-term and dismemberment abortion. HB 1948, which is an amendment to an earlier abortion law (the Abortion Control Act of 1989), aims to restrict abortion procedures to 20 weeks (following the idea that fetuses begin to feel pain at that point) and ban the practice of dismemberment abortions (D&E), except in the case that the mother’s life is threatened by the continuation of the pregnancy. What follows is my perspective as a young adult millennial on the events that happened in Harrisburg that sunny June day.
The rally drew a good crowd filled with Pennsylvanians from all over the state and was emceed by our own Aimee Murphy! The speakers included OB/GYN Dr. Monique Ruberu, amendment sponsor Rep. Kathy Rapp, advocate for “Chloe’s Law” Kurt Kondrich, and many more who rebutted Planned Parenthood's talking points that dismemberment abortion is needed in the case of adverse prenatal diagnoses.
The rally started off positively with convocation and benediction; the pastor leading this part of the rally spoke about how it is important to value all human life, regardless of age, sex, ability, sexual orientation, religion, or skin color. I appreciate this message, since the pro-life movement is for anyone who is passionate about ending abortion and is about valuing everyone because of their irreplaceable and unique worth as human beings.
After the convocation and benediction, the featured speakers took the floor. One of them, Kurt Kondrich, spoke about how abortion relates to disability rights. Kondrich talked about how he feels especially connected to this issue since his wife's OB/GYN suggested that they abort when they learned that their preborn daughter Chloe would be born with Down Syndrome. He talked about the joy and beauty that Chloe has since brought to their family and why is he proud that they chose life despite an adverse diagnosis.
The many speakers present there spoke eloquently and passionately about the pro-life cause, however some spoke with negativity. One speaker gave a very graphic description of a D&E abortion, which evoked an emotional response in most present. The sentiment was well-meaning, but though I do not have a personal experience with abortion, I felt physically ill and could not even imagine what it would be like for a post-abortive person to hear the description. I personally am not one for graphic speech or images but I hope that the speaker’s inclusion of that section provoked compassion in those people who were present that day instead of trauma or anger.
Additionally, another pastor shouted a speech that was harsh and excluding; this pastor talked about ISIS and also seemed to claim that only “religious people” were really truly doing good in the world, which is simply not true. The statement was especially hilarious considering the presence of our atheist intern Rosemary, who was standing right behind him in the crowd. But despite the low parts of the rally, it was overall positive and hopeful that the life-affirming amendment would pass.
In supporting this rally, we hope to help make abortion a thing of the past and create a culture of life, with common-sense laws, starting by banning the especially gruesome procedure of D&E abortions and late-term abortions on fully-formed preborn humans. Some opponents of this amendment think that the passing of it will hurt women, but in fact, D&E abortions are still quite dangerous for women because they can cause lacerations or perforations to the cervix or uterus; and late-term abortions are not necessary to save the life of the mother. Overall, our team hopes to educate on this and other common-sense restrictions of abortion to protect mothers and save babies, and we are hopeful that HB 1948 will help accomplish this.
UPDATE: HB1948 has passed the PA House with a bipartisan vote in support, we now look forward to the vote in the PA state Senate.