HARRISBURG, Pa. — The Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade has sent shockwaves through Pennsylvania politics and raised the stakes for upcoming elections.
Democrats will likely make the issue central to several races, including for Pennsylvania governor and U.S. Senator for Pennsylvania.
Many are painting the gubernatorial election in particular as a referendum on abortion rights. Because the federal right to abortion has effectively ended, states and their leaders have much more influence over abortion rights.
“It’s a very important election anyway. But this ruling makes that election even more important because whoever sits at this desk is the one who’s going to determine whether Pennsylvanians can continue to count on the right to make their own decision,” said Gov. Tom Wolf.
Gubernatorial candidates were quick to release reaction following the ruling.
“Roe v. Wade is rightly relegated to the ash heap of history. As the abortion debate returns to the states, Pennsylvania must be prepared to lead the nation in being a voice for the voiceless,” State Sen. Doug Mastriano, Republican candidate for governor, said in a statement.
Mastriano has previously introduced a six-week abortion ban bill and said he would sign a “heartbeat bill” as governor.
Democratic candidate for governor and current Attorney General Josh Shapiro supports abortion rights.
“We need to protect our fundamental freedoms and that is something that we will do,” he said in a press call on Friday.
Abortion laws in Pennsylvania will 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.
Abortion rights advocates in Pennsylvania said the ruling came as a crushing disappointment, but that they would continue fighting to keep the procedure legal in the state.
“We plan to channel all of our outrage and emotions into action, just like the many generations before us have,” said Signe Espinoza of Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Advocates. “We will take that energy to Harrisburg, to the streets and to the ballot box.”
Anti-abortion rights groups celebrated the ruling and said they would also keep pushing toward their goal: to end abortion in Pennsylvania.
“The sanctity of life is on the line and we have an opportunity to make new advancements to protect women, to protect unborn children and so that’s something that we should be focused on in all areas,” said Alexis Sneller of the Pennsylvania Family Institute.
Senate Republicans have introduced a constitutional amendment, SB 956, that would declare there is no right to abortion in Pennsylvania and the state can’t use taxpayer money to fund them. That would require passage by two consecutive legislative sessions, then approved by voters in a referendum.