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PA Attorney General Josh Shapiro speaks to a crowd gathered at the National Constitution Center on Saturday, June 25. Photo: Nigel Thompson/AL DÍA News.
PA Attorney General Josh Shapiro speaks to a crowd gathered at the National Constitution Center on Saturday, June 25. Photo: Nigel Thompson/AL DÍA News.

Shapiro backs women’s choice, emphasizes voting in November at Philly abortion rights rally

The Pennsylvania Attorney General faces his polar opposite in a 2022 general election that has taken on new meaning.

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The overturn of Roe v. Wade by the U.S. Supreme Court on the morning of Friday, June 24, 2022 has turned into yet another ‘where were you’ moment of the last six years.

For Amy Perez, a yoga teacher who brings the practice to Black and Brown communities across Philly, she was in the sauna when the news dropped. Scrolling through social media, she saw a breaking news post and the shock set in.

“I immediately felt completely stripped away of everything that all the women before us worked for. I felt stripped away of choice, freedom, liberation. I felt stripped away of just being a woman period,” she said.

Amy Perez and her daughter, Audrey Banegas at the rally on Saturday, June 25. Photo: Nigel Thompson/AL DÍA News.
Amy Perez and her daughter, Audrey Banegas at the rally on Saturday, June 25. Photo: Nigel Thompson/AL DÍA News.

It was sentiment of shock, anger and frustration shared by all those present in front of the National Constitution Center on Saturday, June 25, as Pennsylvania Attorney General and Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Josh Shapiro threw a rally in support of abortion rights now at-risk nationwide. The event featured a long list of speakers, all of whom are leading women figures in politics and abortion advocacy in the state and city.

In Pennsylvania, whether or not abortion rights stay in place comes down to November’s election

Shapiro made it clear early in his speech that he would protect women’s rights to abortions in Pennsylvania.

“I believe that abortion is healthcare and I will defend it,” he said.

Every official and abortion rights advocate to speak on Saturday alongside Shapiro afternoon expressed the same anger as those in the crowd, and directed them to take that anger out through organizing around voting over the next four months before the election.

“I’m not here to simply tell you to vote. I’m here to tell you we need to vote for the right candidate. For the candidate that actually believes in our personal privacy and healthcare rights to abortion,” said Rep. Madeleine Dean, who then went on to advocate for U.S. Senate candidate John Fetterman, and Shapiro.

Later in his own speech, the PA Attorney General drew a connection between the overturn of Roe v. Wade by the Supreme Court and the 2016 election of President Donald Trump. He called out voters who thought then-Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton “had it in the bag,” and didn’t vote as a result.

“You can draw a straight line between that decision and the three Supreme Court Justices,” said Shapiro.

Trump would go on to appoint conservative Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett to the Court, shifting its balance to a conservative supermajority.

Despite the past, Shapiro still maintained a hopeful message throughout his dialogue, calling on the same power as the other speakers to help him win the governorship over Republican challenger Doug Mastriano.

His hope, as he told the crowd, came from their “power,” in reference to voting.  

“It’s because you recognize that in order to protect these fundamental freedoms here in Pennsylvania, we gotta win a governor’s race,” Shapiro said.

On the other side, Mastriano is a proponent of a Texas-style ‘Heartbeat Bill,’ which would ban abortions from being performed six weeks after conception. He also doesn’t make any exceptions for cases of rape or incest.

That’s a future to avoid for people like Audrey Banegas, who at 14, shared her mom Amy’s shock when she heard the news of the Supreme Court decision.

“It was something that you really can’t believe. But then you think about it, and you’re like, you don’t really know what’s going to happen next because it’s just something that’s so scary,” said Banegas. “Women are slowly losing pretty much every right that they have.”

It’s why Perez extended Shapiro’s message of voting to not only her daughter, but also Black and Brown communities across Philadelphia and Pennsylvania.

“When things like this happen, it’s a shock, but it’s really not. As a Latina in Philly, it’s so important for our Brown and Black communities to really get up and vote, and we really have to break out these stigmas that people have around voting,” she said. “Every vote affects what happens next.”

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