Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Casey's Vote for 20-Week Abortion Ban Rankles Some Democrats

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Casey's Vote for 20-Week Abortion Ban Rankles Some Democrats

Article excerpt

Last January, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey found himself in an unlikely position for an anti-abortion Democrat: When Republicans tried to prevent Planned Parenthood from receiving federal money -even for non-abortion services - the senator from Pennsylvania rallied to the provider's cause.

"He's on the right side of that fight," a spokeswoman for the organization said at the time.

This January, however, has cast Mr. Casey in a less surprising role: He voted Monday with just two other Senate Democrats to ban abortions after the 20th week of fetal development. And while the legislation's failure was certain, the effect of Mr. Casey's vote on his re-election this year was less clear.

Mr. Casey's vote "definitely affects the political choices we advocate for at New Voices for Reproductive Justice," said Shenay Jeffrey, a board member for the local advocacy group.

Senate Bill 2311 would criminalize the actions of doctors who perform abortions after the 20th week of fetal development, except in cases of rape or incest, or when the pregnant woman's life is at risk. Pennsylvania's Republican senator, Pat Toomey, supported the bill, to no one's surprise.

Mr. Casey's office issued a statement Monday asserting that, while he would vote in favor of the bill, he would "also continue to fight extreme Republicans' attempts to undermine women's health care, such as access to contraception." The office also touted Mr. Casey's support for Medicaid, whose beneficiaries include working poor mothers and their children.

Often speaking more in sorrow than anger, a group of three dozen women acknowledged that record during an afternoon protest at the Allegheny County Courthouse, Downtown.

"Sen. Casey certainly respects women," said Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner, a Democrat. But "with respect must come trust" in women's choices.

Several speakers, including a midwife and an obstetrician, argued that women seeking abortions after the 20th week typically did so only after learning of debilitating birth defects. …

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