Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf’s veto last month of a bill that would prohibit abortion of a baby based solely on a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome drew condemnation from the head of the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference.

The Nov. 21 veto “will prevent all children with Down syndrome from going on to live happy and fulfilled lives,” said Eric Failing, executive director of the Harrisburg-based public affairs arm of the state’s Catholic bishops.

Enactment of H.B. 321, which was sponsored by Rep. Kate Klunk (R-York), would have “ensured the protection of humanity’s most vulnerable lives,” he said in a statement.


Nonetheless, Failing thanked the legislators “who came together in a bipartisan fashion to support this common-sense legislation, and PCC looks forward to working with them again to protect the sanctity of life.”

The PCC also commended recent passage in the General Assembly of two other bills.

The state House Nov. 18 passed H.B. 1800, which would provide school choice in the form of tuition scholarships to public or private schools for parents of students in the Harrisburg School District, or other districts that also are in state receivership.

“Test scores for students in the Harrisburg School District have been among the lowest in Pennsylvania for years,” said Sean McAleer, PCC’s education director, in a statement. “In spite of recent federal, state and local education funding increases, more than two-thirds of all students attending a district school are still far below the basic levels in both math and reading. House Bill 1800 will provide a life-line to these students.”

McAleer said the program would allow students to receive about $8,200 in scholarship money. Catholic schools in the Harrisburg Diocese, he said, have plenty of room to accept new students.

The bill, introduced by House Speaker Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny), now goes to the state Senate.

The Senate Nov. 20 approved S.B. 60, the Buyer Beware Act, which provides for stiffer penalties for anyone convicted of human trafficking or patronizing a victim of trafficking.

“We can’t thank legislators enough for getting tougher on those who commit these heinous crimes, and for ensuring justice for victims,” said Failing.

Human trafficking, a modern form of slavery, “has become a problem in all corners of the world, including Pennsylvania. We trust the governor will take the next step toward ending human trafficking by signing this bill,” Failing said.