Another GOP abortion ban bill. The same glaring weakness | John L. Micek

October 21, 2019 5:14 pm

State Rep. Stephanie Borowicz, R-Clinton, speaks during a news conference in the state Capitol on Oct. 21, 2019

There’s no mistaking where state Rep. Stephanie Borowicz stands on abortion. She wants it gone. And to help that goal on its way, the freshman Republican from Clinton County is sponsoring a bill that would prohibit the procedure as soon as a doctor can detect a fetal heartbeat.

That’s at around six weeks, which is before most women even know they’re pregnant. Asked if she knows that would amount to an effective total ban on the procedure, now legal until the 24th week of gestation, she doesn’t hesitate: “Yes,” she tells a reporter.

At a Monday press conference, Borowicz, along with freshman Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Adams, who’s sponsoring a similar proposal on his side of the Capitol, argued forcefully — and often floridly — for their respective bills.

But when Borowicz was asked Monday if she was the prime sponsor, or even the co-sponsor, of legislation that would promote foster care or adoption, or measures aimed at helping new and expectant mothers  — and the fetuses she’s insisting they bring to term — Borowicz drew a blank.

“I don’t know,” she said, adding a moment later, “I can’t tell you right now, off the top of my head, if I am. I don’t think that I am because we didn’t have a co-sponsorship memo.” That’s a reference to the “Dear Colleague” letter lawmakers send out when they’re looking for support for legislation.

Spoiler: Borowicz isn’t sponsoring such a bill.

But she does have a proposal that would let county corrections officers bring their personal firearms to work. Another solution in search of a problem would ban taxpayer money for gender confirmation surgery or hormone therapy for transgender state prison inmates.

Nor is she a co-sponsor of a measure sponsored by Rep. Mary Jo Daley, D-Montgomery, that would provide workplace accommodations for nursing mothers. It’s been sitting in the House Labor & Industry Committee since April.

But Borowicz is in good company.

None of the other House Republicans who stood up Monday to heartily endorse legislation that Borowicz openly admitted is aimed at putting a “dagger” into Roe v. Wade are on Daley’s bill either.

This isn’t surprising. While they’ve proven only too willing to take away someone’s right to make decisions about their own bodies, anti-abortion lawmakers have proven far stingier when it comes to paying for programs that keep parents and their children healthy and prosperous.

In a statement, the Philadelphia-based Women’s Law Project slammed the majority-Republican General Assembly for repeatedly blocking such measures in the past.

Borowicz and Mastriano’s “obsessive focus on restricting access to safe, legal abortion while ignoring the shocking rates of maternal mortality and other ways Pennsylvania fails our constituents with regard to reproductive health has long been the standard M.O. for anti-choice lawmakers in Pennsylvania,” Senior Staff Attorney Susan J. Frietsche said in an email.

Yet, those are all places for “pro-family” lawmakers to focus their energy. Instead, they’re peddling legislation that will survive neither a guaranteed gubernatorial veto, nor a judiciary that has almost uniformly ruled such measures unconstitutional.

Borowicz, who made headlines earlier this year by delivering an explicitly Christian and blatantly political invocation on the same day the Pennsylvania House swore in its first Black woman Muslim member, was quick to note Monday that she’s all for foster care and adoption — though there is no suggestion that she’s putting her legislative muscle behind it.

Mastriano, who also made headlines for all the wrong reasons earlier this year by posting anti-Muslim memes on his campaign’s Facebook page, has circulated 12 co-sponsorship memos, four times as many as Borowicz, though only five have been formally introduced in the brief time he’s been in office.

Mastriano sidestepped a question about his support for bills helping new and expectant mothers. But he stressed his commitment to adoption and foster care, pointing out that he’d pushed back against what he says are the Wolf administration’s efforts to choke off state and federal money to religious organizations that do adoptions and provide foster care — “particularly Catholic Charities.”

He called Monday’s event part of a “historic fight for freedom.”

It’s not. It’s the exact opposite.

Freedom fighters preserve rights for everyone — especially those with whom they disagree. They don’t take them away. That’s not freedom at all.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.