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Left to right — Senator Pat Toomey, Lt. Governor John Fetterman, State Senator Doug Mastriano, Philly City Councilmember Kendra Brooks. Photos: AL DÍA News Archives, Getty Images, Jared Piper/PHL Council
Left to right — Senator Pat Toomey, Lt. Governor John Fetterman, State Senator Doug Mastriano, Philly City Councilmember Kendra Brooks. Photos: AL DÍA News Archives, Getty Images, Jared Piper/PHL Council

PA and Philly pols react to Roe v. Wade’s demise

There was outrage on one side, and rejoice on the other.

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With the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade on Friday, June 24, 49 years of federally-protected abortion rights are gone. What’s left is an extremely uncertain, and patchwork landscape of rights depending on the state and what party controls its government.

Currently, Pennsylvania is a state where abortion will remain available per Governor Tom Wolf, who has rejected vetoed efforts from the state’s Republican-backed legislature to put similar measures in place as those now viable in Mississippi, Texas, and a number of other conservative-controlled states. However, that could change come 2023 should Republican governor candidate Doug Mastriano win over Democratic candidate Josh Shapiro.

Both reacted on polar opposite ends of the spectrum, with one rejoicing over the decision on Facebook, while the other released a somber statement. It was the same for Democrats and Republicans across Pennsylvania

PA Governor candidates

In a statement released by his campaign, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Josh Shapiro said that Pennsylvanians’ right to an abortion are still in tact. 

"Let me be clear: For now, abortion remains legal in Pennsylvania. Our laws have not changed with this ruling and abortion is permitted in Pennsylvania through the 23rd week of pregnancy, and afterwards when necessary to protect the life or health of the mother,” he said.

Shapiro went on to say that the same can’t be said for women that live in other states. For them, he said he’d protect those needing to travel to the Commonwealth for the procedure from interference through his current Attorney General post.

He also offered a foreshadowing should his opponent win in the 2022 election.

“Here in Pennsylvania, decisions about your bodies will now be left to elected officials in Harrisburg — giving those politicians more power than women in our Commonwealth,” said Shapiro.

On the other side, State Senator Doug Mastriano was in New York campaigning for gubernatorial candidate Andrew Giuliani, but still had time to post things to his campaign’s timeline on Facebook in support of the decision. 

The posts included the message ‘Life wins!’ and a screenshot of a tweet announcing Missouri’s almost immediate ban of abortions just minutes after the Supreme Court issued its decision.]

Mastriano is a supporter of a Texas-style ‘Heartbeat Bill’ in Pennsylvania, which would ban abortions in the state at the moment a heartbeat is detected in the fetus. It often happens before many women know they are pregnant. The bill was previously sent to Governor Tom Wolf’s desk, but was vetoed.

U.S. Senate candidates

Democratic Senate candidate John Fetterman wrote in a tweet that the Supreme Court’s decision was “unjust.”

“It is wrong. And I’m going to fight it with everything I got,” he continued.

Fetterman went on to say that he would fight to codify Roe v. Wade if elected to the U.S. Senate.

Republican candidate Mehmet Oz tweeted a statement saying he respected “those with a different view,” but said he supported the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade

“I am relieved that protecting the lives of America’s unborn children will once again be decided by the people through their elected representatives,” he said.

PA U.S. elected officials

Senator Bob Casey, who had long been one of the few Democrats in Congress to not support abortion, switched his stance as the reality of Roe v. Wade being overturned came closer and closer. His argument against overturning the decision is because of the length of time it’s been in place — almost 50 years. 

With the overturn becoming a reality, Casey also warned of future restrictions to be attempted by Republican lawmakers.

“Today’s decision upends almost a half century of legal precedent and rips away a constitutional right that generations of women have known their entire lives. This dangerous ruling won’t end abortions in this country, but it will put women’s lives at risk,” he said. “And make no mistake — this is not the end goal, it’s just the beginning. Republicans in Congress want to pass federal legislation to completely ban abortion. Our daughters and granddaughters should not grow up with fewer rights than their mothers.”

The soon-to-be-outgoing Senator Pat Toomey reiterated the common talking point among conservatives that the right to abortion should be decided by the people through their elected officials. 

He also equated the overturning of Roe by Dobbs to the overturning of Plessy v. Ferguson by Brown v. Board of Education, which ended segregation in public schools.

“Precedents that are wrongly decided should be overturned,” he wrote.

U.S. Rep. Brendan Boyle, who represents parts of Philly like Northern Liberties, Fishtown, Kensington and further Northeast Philly, wrote that the U.S. “just took a major and tragic step backwards.

U.S. Rep. Dwight Evans, who also represents parts of South Philly, Center City, West and Northwest Philly, wrote that he “strongly opposed” the Supreme Court ruling, and urged the Senate to pass the Women’s Protections Act, which would codify Roe v. Wade

It passed the House in September 2021, but has yet to get a day in the Senate. 

Evans also pointed to the key elections in Pennsylvania — for governor and U.S. senator — which will both determine the future of abortion in the state beyond 2022.

U.S Rep. Madeleine Dean, who represents parts of the Main Line and Montgomery County, recalled she was 13 when Roe v. Wade was first decided.

“I have tears of anger — girls like my 10 year old granddaughter have less rights than me at 13,” she wrote.

U.S. Rep. Scott Perry, who represents Harrisburg and York and has found his name at the center of the House Select Committee’s Jan. 6 hearings of late, joined the chorus of Republicans in Congress praising the Supreme Court overturn of Roe v. Wade.

Also on the Republican side, but taking a much more open stance was Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, who represents parts of the Philly suburban Bucks and Montgomery counties. 

In a statement released by his office, Fitzpatrick urged all state legislatures now charged with considering abortion rights “to always start from a place of empathy and compassion.” 

“Any legislative consideration must start with the process of seeing the world through other people’s eyes, and walking the world in other people’s shoes. Any legislative consideration must always seek to achieve bipartisan consensus that both respects a woman’s privacy and autonomy, and also respects the sanctity of human life,” he said. “These principles are not mutually exclusive; both can and must be achieved.”

Philadelphia City Council

On the Democrat-dominated Philadelphia City Council, anger and frustration was felt across the board. 

Councilmember Kendra Brooks, who has stood at the forefront of the city’s fight for abortion rights, especially for women of color, released a statement saying that “fundamental rights are under attack.”

“Make no mistake — these attacks on abortion rights will disproportionately harm women of color and those struggling to make ends meet. It will limit the autonomy and agency of working class people who already bear the brunt of unaffordable healthcare, underfunded public education, the widespread housing crisis, and our broken social safety net,” she said.

She was echoed by colleagues Helen Gym and Jamie Gauthier, among others. All three will join a protest starting at Philadelphia City Hall on Friday, June 24 at 6:30.

Council President Darrell Clarke also released a statement that not only commented on the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade today, but also its ruling against New York on Thursday, that will make it easier for guns to be accessible in the state and others with similar measures. 

Clarke said both show a disregard for the Black and Brown communities — like in Philadelphia — that are both ravaged by gun violence, and stand to benefit the most from available, safe abortion services.

“The Constitution ought to be color-blind, as a Supreme Court Justice famously wrote a century ago.  Sadly, it does not feel that way, given the horrendous decisions of this Supreme Court this week,” he said.

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