June 25, 2021                                                                  

HARRISBURG, PA – The Pennsylvania Catholic Conference today praised the PA Senate for passing HB 184 by Rep. Dawn Keefer (R-Cumberland, York). The bill increases criminal penalties for those convicted of aiding or encouraging a minor or someone with an intellectual disability to commit suicide.

The measure has already passed the House and will head to the Governor’s desk for his signature.

“This has been a growing problem throughout all of society, due in large part to the popularity of social media,” said Eric Failing, the Executive Director of the PCC. “There are people who will prey upon those who are thinking of taking their own lives by trying to actually convince them to do it. These victims should be getting professional help instead of listening to hateful people on-line who only want to harm others. We must send a message to them that this will not be tolerated.”

Failing noted the hard work and leadership of Rep. Keefer in pushing the bill through both chambers. Keefer called the bill “Shawn’s Law” in honor of Shawn Shatto, a young woman in her district who took her own life after she was given a step-by-step guide on how to poison herself by a suicide website.

Failing also praised the courage and determination of Shawn’s mother, Jacqueline Bieber, who has advocated for the bill, even in the face of attacks from those who defend the kind of guidance that was given to her daughter.

The Pennsylvania Catholic Conference is based in Harrisburg and is the public affairs arm of Pennsylvania’s Catholic bishops.