Legislation legalizing late-term abortion on demand in New York and other states has sparked national controversy and focused attention in the Lehigh Valley on pending legislation in Pennsylvania.
Michael Ciccocioppo and Bonnie Finnerty of the nonprofit Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation addressed legislative and cultural issues, ranging from abortion to assisted suicide, at a Pro-Life Town Hall on Friday, May 3, at St. Simon & Jude Church Hall in Bethlehem. The town hall was part of a seven-city tour in Pennsylvania that Ciccocioppo and Finnerty are doing to generate greater awareness of the pro-life perspective.
Hosted by the Federation’s Bethlehem/Easton chapter of Pennsylvanians for Human Life, the town hall was attended by more than 60 people. Sal Rizzo, chapter president, gave opening and closing remarks. Fr. Michael Kon of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church led the opening and closing prayers. And Dean Browning, a 2020 candidate for U.S. Congress, led the Pledge of Allegiance.
Ciccocioppo, 66, presented an overview of politics in Harrisburg and identified bills that could make life better or worse for Pennsylvanians.
The Down Syndrome Protection Act, HB 321, is currently being considered in the state legislature. This bill would amend the state’s law prohibiting sex selection abortions to include protection for fetuses diagnosed with Downs syndrome.
“People with Down Syndrome go to school, work, have meaningful relationships and contribute to society in so many ways,” said Ciccocioppo, who supports the bill.
Ciccocioppo voiced concern about two other bills up for consideration now. According to Ciccocioppo, HB 111 would amend the state constitution to take away the right of Pennsylvanians to vote for appellate court judges, and allow instead for the governor to make judicial court appointments.
“It’s insulting to Pennsylvanians that the governor and some people in the state legislature think that they’re smarter than voters,” Ciccocioppo said.
Senator Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery) is sponsoring an assisted suicide bill, which does not yet have a number. The bill would allow terminally ill individuals, thought to have less than six months to live, to administer lethal doses of medication to themselves. The patient’s condition would have to be certified by the patient’s own doctor and an independent physician.
According to Ciccocioppo, there is no patient assistance involved with this bill because the doctor’s only role would be to write out the prescription for the lethal dose of medication.
Ciccocioppo said the bill contains few safeguards for patients who could be coerced or forced to commit suicide.
Ciccocioppo urged attendees to contact their state legislators regarding these bills and stressed the importance of keeping up with what is going on in government.
Following Ciccocioppo, Finnerty, 51, took the floor and talked about pro-life cultural issues in Pennsylvania. In particular, she discussed the impact that pro-life movies are having on people’s views of abortion and cited the movies “Unplanned” and “Gosnell: The Trial of America’s Biggest Serial Killer.”
Finnerty said that a new pro-life movie, Roe v Wade, is expected to arrive at movie theaters in the fall and will tell the story of how abortion was legalized in the United States.
Finnerty talked about the Focus on Family’s pro-life event, Alive from New York, that would take place the next day, May 4. A live 4D ultrasound of a preborn baby was shown on large jumbotron screens to thousands of pro-life supporters in Time Square. Citing the ultrasound, Finnerty emphasized how the Pro-Life movement is using science to prove its case for life.
A brief question and answer session followed presentation. Ciccocioppo and Finnerty took turns answering questions given to them on notecards.