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Pennsylvania

Summary of Current (and Most Recent) Abortion and Personhood Laws

  • Pennsylvania Abortion Control Act prohibits abortion after 24 or more weeks gestational age unless a physician reasonably believes that an abortion is necessary to prevent either the death of the pregnant woman or the substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function of the woman. 18 PA. CONS. STAT. Ch. 32.
  • In a section restricting “fetal experimentation,” the law states that it shall not be “construed to condone or prohibit the performance of in vitro fertilization and accompanying embryo transfer.” 18 PA. CONS. STAT. § 3216.
  • Pennsylvania has not amended the Abortion Control Act since the Dobbs decision. 

Potential impact of the law on and references to IVF and reproductive medicine if any

  • It does not appear that current abortion restrictions in Pennsylvania will apply to IVF or other reproductive medicine services outside the context of a pregnancy.
  • The Abortion Control Act requires all persons conducting, or experimenting in, in vitro fertilization to file quarterly reports with the Pennsylvania Department of Health.
    • Reports must include: (1) names of all persons conducting or assisting in the fertilization or experimentation process; (2) locations where the fertilization or experimentation is conducted; (3) name and address of any person, facility, agency or organization sponsoring the fertilization or experimentation except that names of any persons who are donors or recipients of sperm or eggs shall not be disclosed; (4) number of eggs fertilized; (5) number of fertilized eggs destroyed or discarded; and (6) number of women implanted with a fertilized egg. 18 PA. CONS. STAT. § 3213(e).
  • The Abortion Control Act prohibits certain types of “fetal experimentation” (e.g., any person who knowingly performs any type of nontherapeutic experimentation upon an unborn child commits a third-degree felony). However, the law states that nothing in this section shall be “construed to condone or prohibit the performance of in vitro fertilization and accompanying embryo transfer.” 18 PA. CONS. STAT. § 3216(c). 

Relevant definitions

  • Abortion” is defined as “[t]he use of any means to terminate the clinically diagnosable pregnancy of a woman with knowledge that the termination by those means will, with reasonable likelihood, cause the death of the unborn child except that, for the purposes of this chapter, abortion shall not mean the use of an intrauterine device or birth control pill to inhibit or prevent ovulation, fertilization or the implantation of a fertilized ovum within the uterus.” 18 PA. CONS. STAT. § 3203.
  • Conception” and “fertilization” are both defined as “the fusion of a human spermatozoon with a human ovum.” 18 PA. CONS. STAT. § 3203.
  • Fetus” is defined as “an individual organism of the species homo sapiens from fertilization until live birth.” 18 PA. CONS. STAT. § 3203.
  • In vitro fertilization” is defined as “[t]he purposeful fertilization of a human ovum outside the body of a living human female.” 18 PA. CONS. STAT. § 3203.
  • Unborn child” is defined as “an individual organism of the species homo sapiens from fertilization until live birth.” 18 PA. CONS. STAT. § 3203.

Penalties for violations of the applicable abortion restrictions

The Abortion Control Act provides penalties for the performance of an unlawful abortion and for failure to file reports related to “experimentation in in vitro fertilization.” 18 PA. CONS. STAT. §§ 3211(d), 3213(e).

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