HARRISBURG - The Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed a controversial bill today prohibiting abortion after a fetal diagnosis of Down syndrome. The legislation would create a new crime of performing an abortion if the patient has chosen to have the procedure because of the diagnosis.

Critics have said that, if the bill becomes law, it will compromise relationships between patients and doctors. The bill is opposed by a host of reproductive justice groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, and has failed to win the support of disability rights advocacy organizations.

“Supporters of this bill have disguised their anti-abortion agenda under the cover of disability rights,” said Reggie Shuford, executive director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania. “If the supporters are so concerned about people with disabilities, we encourage them to create and boost programs that allow people with disabilities to live full and independent lives.”

In the 2017-18 session, the same bill passed the state House but was not considered in the state Senate.

“Pennsylvania politicians are again joining other state legislatures in their efforts to undermine a person’s constitutional right to make their own reproductive decisions,” said Elizabeth Randol, legislative director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania. “This ban is just a thinly-veiled attempt to criminalize abortion in Pennsylvania.

“Pennsylvania law already places significant restrictions on a person’s ability to have an abortion. Abortion care must remain legal, safe, and accessible.”

House Bill 321, which was introduced by Representative Kate Klunk of York County, now heads to the state Senate for consideration.

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