Puerto Rico is the only United States territory without protective measures for the preborn on the books. However, a comprehensive bill could soon be passed which would provide major protections.
The Senate has introduced bill PS950, “The Law for Protection of Women and Preservation of Life” which contains numerous provisions similar to measures the United States has implemented to protect women and children from abortion.
Although Puerto Rico’s Penal Code prohibits abortion except to save the life or health of the mother, Supreme Court decisions have since stopped any enforcement of the ban. Pueblo v. Duarte Mendoza reinterpreted health to also include “mental health”, which allows for a vague definition of health and a broad application of the exception. In fact, approximately 15,000-20,000 abortions are performed annually and now allowed through all nine months of pregnancy. Minors seeking an abortion can even do so without parental consent.
If passed PS950 would accomplish the following:
- Ban abortion after 20 weeks, the point at which the preborn are capable of experiencing pain, except in the case of a medical emergency
- Mandate parental knowledge and consent for minors seeking abortion, requiring at least one guardian provide written consent and a copy of their government-issued ID at the abortion clinic
- Ensure infants who survive an abortion attempt are protected under Puerto Rico law, and that any doctor who causes the death of an abortion survivor, including by negligence or refusal to provide emergency care, is guilty of a felony
- Require abortions after the first 12 weeks of pregnancy be performed in an authorized hospital, preventing standalone private clinics like that of Kermit Gosnell
- Ensure women be offered the opportunity to view an ultrasound of their baby
- Prohibit sex-selective abortion and eugenic abortion of preborn children diagnosed with disabilities
- Ensure women are fully informed by requiring physicians to provide women with information regarding abortion medical risks, the knowledge abortion will “end the life of a whole, separate and unique life”, their name and contact information as well as contact information for the local hospital in case of an emergency
- Require abortion facilities to post signs informing women they have the right not to be forced by family members or medical staff into having an abortion
- Establish a de facto 48-hour waiting period so women seeking abortion are given sufficient time to consider the risks of abortion and are allowed time to come to a decision of whether to go through with the abortion free from coercion
All of these provisions are key in creating a culture of life and safeguarding women. The bill also appears to have strong support from pro-life advocates.
In fact, pro-lifers recently participated in a March for Life to show support for the bill. The bill is also endorsed by many Washington pro-life leaders, some of which sent a letter to Puerto Rican pro-life leader Daisy Quiles-Pardo.
“We commend you for your leadership in fighting to defend and promote a culture of life that respects the dignity of every human being at all stages of life. Rest assured that we are committed to work with you closely in your struggle to defend the unborn in Puerto Rico and, particularly, in your advocacy to ensure that Senate Bill 950 becomes law,” the letter reads.
Among the organizations which signed the letter were Americans United for Life, the American Principles Project, Concerned Women for America LAC, March for Life, the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, Students for Life of America and Susan B. Anthony List.
Check out the EWTN Pro-life Weekly clip below as Alfonso Aguilar of the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles, who also signed the letter, discusses the legislation along with Ginna Pennance, the communications director of the Puerto Rican pro-life group, Fieles A La Verdad.
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