The future of abortion in Pennsylvania is on the ballot this fall

The United States has entered a new era on the abortion issue.

On Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade, who for 49 years required states to allow women to have abortions. The move represents a major shift that is likely to have serious repercussions across the country.

The decision as to whether and how abortions should be regulated or banned is now up to the individual states.

Some states — like Texas, Mississippi and Utah — are expected to use the newfound authority to implement near-total abortion bans. Other states — like California, New Jersey, and Oregon — have laws on the books that will continue to allow abortion in their states.

So what does the Roe v. Wade for Pennsylvania?

Well, that will likely depend on what happens at the ballot box this fall.

State law currently allows abortions up to 24 weeks. It is permissible later in pregnancy when the mother’s life is in danger.

The Republican-controlled state legislature has shown interest in changing that. A handful of bills that would restrict or effectively ban access to abortion had been introduced before the Supreme Court’s decision.

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf has said he will veto those attempts if they make their way to his desk. But his term expires at the end of the year.

That means whoever is chosen as his successor will play a crucial role in the future of abortion in Pennsylvania. And the two men vying to be the next governor couldn’t be more different in their stance on the issue.

Republican candidate Doug Mastriano wants a total abortion ban. Democrat Josh Shapiro opposes any legislation that would restrict them.

Abortion will certainly be on the ballot this November.

Here’s what you need to know about what the gubernatorial race means for the future of abortion in Pennsylvania.

If Shapiro wins

Attorney General Josh Shapiro

Shapiro vowed to be the last line of defense against laws banning abortion, making the statement at a rally in Philadelphia days after the draft statement cracking down on Roe v. Wade was leaked in May.

“You come for all your rights and I will be there to defend you every step of the way,” Shapiro told the crowd at the rally.

Shapiro said he would veto any bill that would limit abortion rights and expand access to reproductive care.

As Attorney General, Shapiro has repeatedly campaigned vigorously to protect or expand abortion rights. He challenged abortion bans in other states in court, arguing against the Trump administration’s gag rule that banned funding for clinics that made referrals to abortion providers or informed patients about abortion providers.

When Mastriano wins

State Senator Doug Mastriano (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, file)
State Senator Doug Mastriano

Mastriano said during a governor’s debate in April that a total ban on abortion should be introduced, with no exceptions for rape, incest or cases where the mother’s life is endangered by the pregnancy.

“I am for life. It’s problem #1,” Mastriano said, adding that he believes life begins at conception.

He said he would sign a “heartbeat law” that would effectively ban abortions after about six weeks, end all government funding for Planned Parenthood, and support funding for counseling and adoption services.

As a state legislature, Mastriano introduced its own “heartbeat bill.”

“Once the repeal of Roe v. Wade is official, I urge the General Assembly to vote on the Heartbeat Act,” he said in a press release. “Now is the time to take action to protect the rights of the unborn.”

Where Pennsylvanians Stand

According to the most recent Franklin & Marshall College poll released in May, a majority of Pennsylvanians support some access to abortion.

The poll found that 54% of registered Keystone State voters said abortion should be legal under certain circumstances.

It also shows that 31% said abortion should be legal under all circumstances, while only 14% said abortion should be illegal under all circumstances.

The pollster also asked Pennsylvanians about specific laws that could provide more clarity on where voters stand.

An October poll found that about 70% of registered voters strongly oppose passing a law in Pennsylvania modeled on a more restrictive Texas law that bans abortions after six weeks and allows individuals to sue providers.

It turned out that only 14% of voters would support such a law in the state.

What to expect next

To get an idea of ​​what new abortion restrictions might look like in Pennsylvania, one need only look to legislation that has already been proposed in the state.

The Republican legislature has introduced bills that would ban or impose severe restrictions on abortion in the state. While none of them are likely to become law – the governor has said he would veto them and they would have to be reintroduced when a new legislative session begins next year – they can serve as a template for the types of changes some are considering on the have rights in mind.

And Republican leaders in the General Assembly have made it clear they certainly want to push for change.

House Speaker Bryan Cutler and House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff issued a statement Friday saying the Supreme Court ruling made it clear that individual states have the power to legislate in the best way interests of their residents.

“This ruling represents a needed opportunity to review our existing abortion law, and discussions about possible changes are already underway,” the statement said.

Proposed “Heartbeat Bills”

Senate Bill 378: The bill would ban abortions if a fetal heartbeat is detected by a doctor.

Main sponsor: Mastriano, a Republican from Franklin County.

Status: On the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services.

House Bill 904: The bill would ban abortions if a fetal heartbeat is detected by a doctor.

Main Sponsor: Stephanie Borowicz, a Republican from Clinton County.

Status: Passed the House Health Committee in May and awaits House-wide action.

Proposed Constitutional Amendments

House Bill 2252: Proposes a constitutional amendment that would ban public funding for elective abortion and bar the courts from changing state abortion laws.

Main Sponsor: Rep. Donna Oberlander, a Republican from Clarion County.

Status: House Health Committee.

Senate Bill 956: Proposes a constitutional amendment that bans public funding for elective abortion and prevents courts from changing state abortion laws.

Main Sponsor: Judy Ward, a Republican from Blair County.

Status: Passed the Senate Health and Human Services Committee in January and faces the full Senate.

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