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Pennsylvania 20-Week and ‘Dismemberment Abortion’ Ban (SB 3)

This law was last updated on Jan 2, 2019

This law is Anti–Choice




SB 3




Feb 2, 2017


Co-sponsors: 22
Primary Sponsors: 1
Total Sponsors: 23


20-Week Bans, Dilation and Evacuation Bans

Full Bill Text

SB 3 would prohibit abortions after 20 weeks, as well as abolish “dismemberment abortions,” except in the case of a medical emergency.

20-Week Ban

The bill would prohibit a person from performing or inducing an abortion upon another person when the gestational age of the fetus is 20 or more weeks unless the procedure is necessary to either prevent the death of the pregnant patient or the substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function of the patient.

Dismemberment Abortion

The bill would also prohibit an individual from performing or attempting to perform a “dismemberment abortion” upon another individual when the gestational age of the fetus is less than 20 weeks unless:

  • The physician certifies in writing that the abortion is necessary to prevent either the death of the pregnant patient or the substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function of the patient; and
  • The physician’s judgment with respect to the necessity for the abortion has been concurred in by another licensed physician who certifies in writing their medical judgement as well.

The bill defines “dismemberment abortion” to mean:

“The act of knowingly and purposefully causing the death of an unborn child by means of dismembering the unborn child and extracting the unborn child one piece at a time from the uterus through the use of clamps, grasping forceps, tongs, scissors or similar instruments. The term does not include an abortion which is exclusively performed through suction curettage.”

Any person who violates this provision would be committing a felony of the third degree.

The bill provides that the pregnant patient may not be held liable for performing or attempting to perform a dismemberment abortion.

This law targets a procedure known as dilation and evacuation (D and E), which is frequently used during second-trimester abortions. According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, an abortion using suction aspiration can be performed up to 14 weeks’ gestation, but after 14 weeks the D and E procedure must be used to perform an abortion. As such, dilation and evacuation bans, depending upon their language, may ban all surgical abortion past 14 weeks’ gestation. (Source.)

Related Legislation

The ‘dismemberment abortion’ provision is based on model legislation drafted by the National Right to Life Committee.

Companion bill to HB 77.

Similar to SB 888, which failed to pass in 2016.


Passed the senate on February 8, 2017, by a 32-18 vote.

Passed the house on December 12, 20217, by a 121-70 vote.


Vetoed by Gov. Tom Wolf (D) on December 18, 2017.