We must counter GOP's anti-abortion moves in Pa.

York Dispatch editorial board

As expected, GOP lawmakers in Pennsylvania moved quickly in the wake of the Supreme Court’s disastrous decision to demolish Roe v. Wade abortion protections. 

Senate Republicans early Friday passed a proposed constitutional amendment that would declare that the right to an abortion does not exist in Pennsylvania. The GOP-led state House followed suit later that day.

The move is an end run around potential gubernatorial opposition. Gov. Tom Wolf has been steadfast in his refusal to sign off on legislative efforts to limit abortion access in the state. Constitutional amendments, however, do not require a governor’s signature. That’s one reason the GOP has made increasing use of them. (Additional proposed amendments approved Friday would, among other things, require residents to show government-issued ID to vote and give lawmakers greater power in overturning state regulations and conducting election audits.)

While term-limited Wolf will no longer be in office by the time the constitutional amendment process plays out, it’s possible — likely, one would hope, given the extreme positions held by current GOP gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano — that his successor will likewise be a pro-abortion rights Democrat.

Thus, the constitutional amendment route favored by Republicans.

In bypassing the traditional legislative process, however, GOP lawmakers may have been too clever by half. According to the Pew Research Center, more than 50% of Pennsylvania adults say abortion should be legal in all or most cases.

Answering a poll and heading to the polls are two different actions, of course. That’s why those residents who support safe and comprehensive health care for women must be certain, despite continuing GOP efforts to suppress turnout, that their voices are heard should this unfortunate proposal ever come before voters.

In fact, supporters of women’s rights need to be vocal in every election going forward. While the abortion-banning amendment won’t be on this fall’s ballot, candidates for statewide and congressional offices will be. 

And one of those races could make the amendment proposal moot: Seating the Republican candidate in the governor’s chair would be as good outlawing abortion in Pennsylvania. 

That’s because Mastriano is on record as supporting an across-the-board ban on abortions without exception. Democratic candidate Josh Shapiro, conversely, has vowed to continue Wolf’s campaign of vetoing abortion restrictions and supporting reproductive rights. If you are a woman or know one, this should not be a difficult choice.

And in a potentially majority-deciding race for the U.S. Senate, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, a Democrat, has been clear and consistent that reproductive freedom is, in his words, “a fundamental right that cannot change.” His opponent, cross-state Republican Mehmet Oz, though he equivocates, describes himself as “strongly pro-life.”

In these and any other races in which a candidate has the capacity to threaten Pennsylvania women’s ability to access a full range of reproductive health care options, voters must be present and persistent.

The Supreme Court’s conservative majority will not protect women in making their own reproductive choices. Pennsylvania Republicans, with few exceptions, are eager to join them. It is up to the state’s citizens — through the power of the ballot — to ensure abortion remains safe and legal across the Keystone State.

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