Heartbeat Bill, Unborn Child Dignity Act, Down Syndrome Protection Act all receive passing votes out of the House Health Committee.

(HARRISBURG – May 25, 2021) Today, efforts to update Pennsylvania’s abortion law made a significant first-step forward as the PA House Health Committee, under the leadership of State Representative Kathy Rapp (R-Warren), passed three important pro-life bills.

“Each of these pro-life bills helps to recognize the humanity of the unborn child,” says Alexis Stefani, Communications and Policy Officer for Pennsylvania Family Institute.

The three bills passed today by the PA House Health Committee are the Heartbeat Bill (House Bill 904), the Unborn Child Dignity Act (House Bill 118) and the Down Syndrome Protection Act (House Bill 1500).

“It’s far past time for Pennsylvania to improve our laws on abortion,” says retired Judge Cheryl Allen with Pennsylvania Family Institute. “Our state still allows abortion up to six months in pregnancy and selective abortions for a diagnosis of Down syndrome. This must change.”

The Heartbeat Bill, led by State Rep. Stephanie Borowicz (R-Clinton), would prohibit any abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected. Current state law permits abortion as far as six months in pregnancy (24 weeks). Under the Heartbeat Bill, a physician must determine if there is a fetal heartbeat before performing any abortion. 

According to the American Pregnancy Association, “Generally, from 6 ½ – 7 weeks is the time when a heartbeat can be detected and viability can be assessed.”

The Heartbeat Bill currently has over 50 co-sponsors in the PA House of Representatives. It is similar to laws passed in several other states, including Ohio and Texas. 

Today’s vote by the PA House Health Committee is the first time the Heartbeat Bill has advanced in Pennsylvania. Last year, the Heartbeat Bill was introduced but no votes took place. 

The Unborn Child Dignity Act, led by State Rep. Frank Ryan (R-Lebanon), would require healthcare facilities to give parents the option of burial or cremation after the death of their unborn child. Hospital policies vary, but too often babies that are miscarried or aborted are treated as “medical hazardous waste” and not as a human being.

Last session, the Unborn Child Dignity Act received a bipartisan majority vote in the PA House (Roll call: 123-76) but was never voted upon in the PA Senate. 

This legislation made national headlines when former State Representative Wendy Ullman (D-Bucks) said during committee debate that an early miscarriage is just “some mess on a napkin.” 

“An unborn child who tragically dies from a miscarriage is not medical hazardous waste but a deceased human being and parents deserve to have healthcare facilities treating their baby with dignity,” commented Judge Allen.

The Down Syndrome Protection Act, led by State Rep. Kate Klunk (R-York), would protect an unborn child from being aborted due to a prenatal diagnosis of possible Down syndrome. Too many families are being subjected to doctors, nurses and genetic counselors pressuring them into ending the life of their unborn child just because of a diagnosis of Down syndrome.

This is the third consecutive legislative session for the Down Syndrome Protection Act. Last session, the bill passed with bipartisan majority votes in both the PA House (Roll call: 117-76) and PA Senate (Roll call: 27-22), but it was then vetoed by pro-abortion Gov. Tom Wolf.  

“Doctors and medical professionals are pressuring families to abort their baby upon a diagnosis of Down syndrome,” adds Stefani. “This eugenics practice of aborting babies because they may have a disability needs to end here in Pennsylvania.” 

Pennsylvania Family Institute offers a special thank you to State Representative Kathy Rapp for her outstanding leadership in helping to advance these important pieces of legislation.

Take Action: To contact your State Representative and State Senator in support of these three pro-life bills, use our Citizen Action Center alert at pafamily.org/prolife


Pennsylvania Family Institute is the state’s leading pro-life, pro-family organization; encouraging responsible citizenship and engagement to see Pennsylvania as a place where God is honored, religious freedom flourishes, families thrive and life is cherished.