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Senator Bob Casey still calls himself 'pro-life,' but has shifted his Roe v. Wade stance amid its likely overturn. Photo: AL DÍA Archives.
Senator Bob Casey still calls himself 'pro-life,' but has shifted his Roe v. Wade stance amid its likely overturn. Photo: AL DÍA Archives.

PA Senator Bob Casey announces support for codified Roe v. Wade in shifting stance on the procedure

The shift for the ‘pro-life’ Democrat comes as a conservative majority Supreme Court is set to overturn the longstanding decision defending abortion in the U.S.

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Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey, one of the last lawmakers on Capitol Hill who identifies as a “pro-life Democrat,” recently said he would support the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would codify the right to abortion into federal law.

Casey’s father, a former Pennsylvania Governor, was well-known for his anti-abortion views. In 1989, he signed a bill into law with strict abortion limitations.

The law stated that a minor must provide parental consent to terminate a pregnancy. A married woman must notify her husband of her intended abortion, clinics must provide certain information to a woman seeking the procedure, and wait 24 hours before receiving it.

In the landmark 1992 Supreme Court case Planned Parenthood v. Casey, Roe v. Wade was reaffirmed, but the court upheld all the provisions of the law except for the requirement of spousal notification. 

Because of his father’s legacy, Casey has been perceived as a relatively moderate Democrat, but he has shifted to the left on several occasions over the last 10 years, even though he continues to call himself “pro-life.” 

While Senate Democrats rallied on the Capitol steps after a Supreme Court draft opinion on Roe V. Wade leaked, Casey was one of the few not in attendance. 

Casey has maintained a thin balance between supporting both pro-choice and anti-choice legislation and ideas.

In some instances, he has voted in favor of restrictions, such as a proposed abortion ban after 20 weeks, but he has also voted with Democrats to support federal funding for Planned Parenthood and access to contraception.

Casey, who’s serving his third term as governor and will face reelection in two years, is now in the position to watch the high court potentially demolish federal abortion rights, while the many activists in his party are mobilizing hard against any such decision.

It seems that Casey changed shifted his stance in response to what he sees as an unexpected move by Congress Republicans to attempt to put in place a complete ban on abortion nationwide.

In an interview with the AP, Casey said that many Americans are just starting to realize that Republicans, in many cases, want to ban the procedure with no exceptions.

Casey pointed out that for decades, Republicans have been advocating for states to have a say over abortion access, and now they’re actively pursuing legislation that would ban the procedure everywhere after six weeks — before many women even know they are pregnant.

In a statement released on Tuesday, May 10, Casey said that he will again vote in favor of passing the Women’s Health Protection Act and continue to support the bill through the process. 

“In light of the leaked Supreme Court decision draft overturning Roe v. Wade, and subsequent reports that Republicans in the U.S. House and Senate will introduce legislation to enact a nationwide six-week ban, the real question of the moment is: do you support a categorical ban on abortion? During my time in public office, I have never voted for-nor do I support-such a ban," reads part of the statement.

Casey’s latest stand was immediately praised by liberals and criticized by anti-abortion groups, which have long accused Casey of failing to live up to his professed beliefs on the matter. 

“Because of his actions and words, I think Sen. Casey has abandoned legitimate use of the pro-life label,” Michael Geer, president of the Pennsylvania Family Institute, which opposes abortion, said in a statement. 

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