HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Gov. Tom Wolf is following in the footsteps of other Democratic governors following the U.S. Supreme Court’s abortion ruling and looking to protect patients who travel to Pennsylvania for the procedure from being prosecuted by their home states.
Gov. Wolf on Tuesday said in a statement that he would refuse a request from any other state to arrest or detain any out-of-state resident who had traveled to Pennsylvania to seek an abortion, as well as anyone providing or assisting with it.
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Gov. Wolf’s statement is similar to those of Democratic governors in California, Colorado, North Carolina and elsewhere.
Their attempts to protect abortion rights come as tighter restrictions and bans are going into effect in conservative states after last month’s Dobbs v. Jackson ruling in the U.S. Supreme Court, which overturned the nearly half-century-old holding from Roe v. Wade that found that the right to abortion was protected by the U.S. Constitution.
States now may restrict the procedure, and many have taken steps to curtail or ban abortions.
Gov. Wolf signed Executive Order 2022-01 on Tuesday to back up his statement. The order immediately ensures that out-of-state residents may enter Pennsylvania to access reproductive health care services in the commonwealth.
According to the press release, the executive order also affirms the governor shall, while still adhering to state law and the US Constitution, decline any request received from any other state to issue a warrant for the arrest or surrender of any person charged with a criminal violation involving the provision, receipt of, or assistance with reproductive health care services unless the basis of the criminal charges are also criminal offenses under Pennsylvania law.
Since taking office, Gov. Wolf has championed abortion access by vetoing three different anti-abortion bills pass by Pennsylvania’s General Assembly and vowed to veto the rest.
“The Supreme Court’s decision to dismantle Roe v. Wade has invoked fear and uncertainty across our nation but especially in states where access to reproductive health care services is being questioned and, in some cases, banned,” said Gov. Wolf. “Here in Pennsylvania, I will not stand for this attack on women and pregnant people. By signing this executive order, I am affirming that individuals seeking and providing reproductive health services are safe in the commonwealth from discipline and prosecution. Everyone, whether a resident of Pennsylvania or elsewhere, deserves access to health care. As long as I am governor, I will do everything in my power to protect that right.”
Gov. Wolf supports abortion rights and has vetoed three bills from the Republican-controlled Legislature in the past five years to restrict the procedure.
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While it will remain legal while Gov. Wolf is in office, the question is whether Pennsylvania’s next Governor signs or veto a bill that would further restrict abortion rights.
“I am pro-life. It is the number one issue,” said Doug Mastriano, the Republican Party’s candidate for Pennsylvania Governor. Mastriano said during the abc27 gubernatorial primary debate that he believes life begins at conception, and he would prefer no abortions with no exceptions.
“Everyone deserves a chance to live,” added Mastriano.
Josh Shapiro, the state’s Attorney General, and the Democratic Party’s gubernatorial candidate, says he will veto any abortion bill that he believes Mastriano would sign.
“He is dangerous, he is extreme, and he is way out of touch with where most Pennsylvanians are on this issue,” said Shapiro of Mastriano.
The PA Family Institute, a pro-life organization, claims that Shapiro is in fact the one who is out of touch, calling him, “a hero to abortion extremists, using taxpayer dollars and the power of his office to join lawsuits against sensible abortion laws in numerous other states. He joins with Planned Parenthood in supporting late-term abortions right here in Pennsylvania.”
Shapiro says these claims are “nonsense” and that he will support and defend Pennsylvania’s abortion laws up to 23 weeks into pregnancy with consultation from a physician, and after 24 weeks if a woman’s life or health is at risk.
Mastriano supports much tougher laws, such as the heartbeat bill, with much tougher penalties. Plus, he says that doctors who perform abortions in Pennsylvania should and will be punished if he wins the governor race.
Abortion remains legal in Pennsylvania up to 24 weeks of pregnancy.