Pennsylvania governor nixes Down syndrome abortion bill

Pennsylvania's Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf vetoed a bill Thursday that would have banned abortions in the state in cases where a fetus is diagnosed with Down syndrome, calling it a restriction that interferes with a decision made between women and medical professionals.

Wolf's action came a day after the state's Republican-led Legislature passed the measure amid a wave of abortion restriction bills advancing in several conservative states.

“Physicians and their patients must be able to make choices about medical procedures based on best practices and standards of care," Wolf, an abortion rights supporter, wrote in an online statement.

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The dome of the Pennsylvania Capitol in Harrisburg. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

The dome of the Pennsylvania Capitol in Harrisburg. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

Pennsylvania allows abortions at up to the 24th week of pregnancy for any reason except to select a gender. Had it passed, the new measure would have prohibited abortions if a fetus is diagnosed with Down syndrome, except in cases of rape, incest or medical emergencies.

Around 6,000 babies are born with Down syndrome annually, according to the National Down Syndrome Society.

“There is no evidence that this bill is needed in Pennsylvania," Wolf said. "I have significant concerns that enforcement of this legislation would upend the doctor-patient relationship and impede on patient confidentiality."

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Supporters of the bill argued it would have protected a vulnerable population. Opponents said it would have violated women's right to make their own decisions about abortion.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.