A bill that would place tighter regulations on clinics that offer abortions is now at the center of the ongoing debate over access to abortion services in Pennsylvania.
In January, a doctor and staff members from a Philadelphia abortion clinic were charged with eight murders: seven babies born alive and killed with scissors, and one woman given a lethal dose of Demerol.
At the time, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett said that it was a public safety issue, requiring new policies of enforcement, not new laws.
Legislators thought otherwise, and now a bill is on his desk. Joanne Tosti-Vasey, President of the Pennsylvania chapter of the National Organization for Women, said that the state has instituted proper oversight and the legislation is designed not to safeguard women, but to limit access to abortion, a fundamental component of women's basic health care guaranteed as a constitutional right.
Tosti-Vasey said that the bill requires construction modifications that are unnecessary. "This is a very simple procedure that doesn't require that level of construction, and the clinics would have to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars, and many of them will not be able to afford that and be able to survive and that will shut them down," she said.
"Women will die," said Tosti-Vasey, because they will turn to unsafe, unregulated abortion providers if some or all of the state's 22 freestanding clinics close their doors. She said that the pro-choice community will challenge the legislation in court if Governor Corbett signs the bill into law.
The Governor's office has not returned calls for comment on his plans to sign or veto the bill.