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Leaked Supreme Court opinion draft heating up Pennsylvania gubernatorial race

Pennsylvania’s gubernatorial race is heating up in light of a leaked draft of the Supreme Court’s majority opinion on overturning Roe v. Wade.

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Pennsylvania’s gubernatorial race is heating up in light of a leaked draft of the Supreme Court’s majority opinion on overturning Roe v. Wade.

If the Supreme Court does overturn Roe v. Wade, as the leaked draft implies could happen, abortion laws in Pennsylvania would not immediately change. Current law prohibits abortion at 24 weeks of pregnancy, and pregnant people seeking an abortion must wait 24 hours and get counseling on other options.

The possibility that abortion legality could soon be handed to states raises the stakes of the ongoing gubernatorial election in Pennsylvania, as the governor has the power to sign or veto abortion legislation.

Gov. Tom Wolf announced he would veto any legislation further restricting abortion, writing in a statement:

"Any decision to overturn Roe v. Wade is an assault on the right to access safe, legal abortion services. Let's be clear: the issue is not whether we believe in choice, but rather who is going to make that choice. I believe that should be the person who is most closely involved in making this difficult decision—not lawmakers and judges. And I believe that's a right that applies to every person across this country.”

The frontrunner expected to win the Democratic primary for governor, Attorney General Josh Shapiro, painted himself as the only way to keep abortion legal in Pennsylvania.

“As governor, I will veto any bill that restricts the right to an abortion,” Shapiro said during a press call on Tuesday.

State Sen. Doug Mastriano (R-Adams/York) is the frontrunner among Republican primary candidates, according recent polls. He has previously introduced a six-week abortion ban bill and said he would sign a “heartbeat bill” as governor.

Regardless of whether they’re vetoed, abortion ban bills will likely move forward in the GOP-controlled Pennsylvania General Assembly.

“We’ve supported legislation out of this chamber that has provided dignity for Pennsylvanians, both born and unborn, and we will continue to do that,” said Jason Gottesman, spokesperson for the House Republican Caucus.

GOP legislators have one more path to restricting abortion as soon as doing so isn’t prohibited by federal law.

“Even if the governor vetoes it, the majority party could proceed with a constitutional amendment,” said State Sen. Judy Schwank (D-Berks), who chairs the Pennsylvania Women’s Health Caucus.

A constitutional amendment would bypass the governor. It requires the amendment to be passed in two consecutive legislative sessions, then approved by voters in a referendum.

On the ground, not much will change whether or not the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade. The pro-life protesters with Undefeated Courage who stand outside the Harrisburg Planned Parenthood clinic every day said they would continue coming.

“We’re going to do what we can to save the babies,” said Steve Ciccocioppo, Sr., who called himself a sidewalk counselor.

Planned Parenthood Keystone, which runs the clinic, plans to continue offering abortion services.

“We are absolutely committed to providing healthcare no matter what and we are going to fight back against any bans or restrictions that come down in Pennsylvania,” said chief external affairs officer Sam Bobila.

Several Pennsylvania lawmakers released responses to the leaked majority opinion. Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) said in a statement,

“Leaking a premature Supreme Court opinion—regardless of subject matter—undermines the Court as an institution and erodes America’s trust in this pillar of our constitutional structure. While the motive behind this leak is unclear, I’m concerned it was released as a political ploy to pressure Justices to change their views when the rule of law—not public opinion—should determine the outcome and reasoning of a case. 

I would encourage each of the Supreme Court Justices to disregard the resulting explosion of heated rhetoric from both sides of the political spectrum as they conclude their evaluation of this case, and I hope, with the leadership of Chief Justice Roberts, that the perpetrator of this gross breach in Court procedure is held accountable.”

Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) said in a statement,

“If this draft opinion becomes the final opinion of the Court, I have serious concerns about what overturning almost 50 years of legal precedent will mean for women in states passing near or total bans on abortion. Congress should be working to reduce the number of abortions and unintended pregnancies and doing much more to support women and families.” 

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