Pennsylvania won’t honor other states’ abortion bans, says AG Shapiro

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Pennsylvania officials reaffirmed their commitment to maintaining access to abortion on Friday as state reproductive health centers see an increase in out-of-state patients following the overturning of Roe v. Wade in June.

Attorney General Josh Shapiro joined Gov. Tom Wolf Friday afternoon at the Montgomery County Women’s Center to ensure there would be no cooperation with states seeking to prosecute Commonwealth doctors who perform abortions to out-of-state residents.

“Pennsylvania doctors and healthcare providers, hear me out on this: You can continue to provide abortions in the Commonwealth and we have your back,” Shapiro said.

Shapiro said the strict abortion laws triggered by Dobbs v. Jackson of the United States Supreme Court had already sent masses of patients to Pennsylvania from states like Ohio and West Virginia.

Shapiro told reproductive rights advocates and domestic violence support workers that the Allegheny Reproductive Health Center in Pittsburgh reported nearly 10 times the calls it normally sees in the weeks following Dobbs.

“Before Dobbs, at this clinic in Pittsburgh, they only saw a third of their patients from out of state. Now, in the last few weeks alone, they’ve seen that number explode to over 70% of their patients coming from out of state,” Shapiro said.

Earlier this month, Wolf signed an executive order that the state would deny any request from any other state to arrest or detain any out-of-state resident who had traveled to Pennsylvania to have an abortion. , as well as anyone providing or assisting with it. .

“When the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade this year, it was not just an attack on abortion as health care, it was an attack on the right to bodily autonomy,” said said Wolf. “Banning abortion increases maternal mortality rates, causes financial hardship that hurts families and our economy, and further exposes people in abusive relationships.”

Maria Macaluso, executive director of the Montgomery County Center, said the role reproductive rights can have in an abusive relationship can often be overlooked by many.

“A lot of people see domestic abuse as the physical, very physical abuse that we know is criminal. But domestic abuse is really about control,” Macaluso said. “Preventing a partner from having an abortion is abuse, and forcing a partner to stay pregnant is unfortunately an effective way to keep them dependent and trapped in a relationship.

Macaluso added that pregnancy is often a time of escalating violence in abusive relationships.

Dr. Karen Feisullin, OB-GYN at Jefferson Health Family Planning, said there are many reasons why an abortion may be necessary, saying each patient’s unique situation requires doctors like her to provide the best care without fear of legal repercussions.

“I just want to add that I look forward to the ability to have safe abortion accessible in Pennsylvania as part of our constitution,” Feisullin added.

While an amendment to guarantee abortion rights is not currently being considered by lawmakers, Sen. Judy Schwank, D-11, of Berks County, said Assembly members general of the Women’s Health Caucus would “fight tooth and nail” against a proposed ballot question to restrict abortions.

Wolf sued the Pennsylvania General Assembly on Thursday over a set of constitutional amendments proposed by Republican lawmakers, including one that would say the state constitution does not guarantee any abortion rights or publicly funded abortions.

The lawsuit asks the state Supreme Court to reject the amendments as not constitutionally valid, arguing that the proposed abortion amendment violates privacy protections.

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Senate Bill 106, the package that passed earlier this month as lawmakers finalized the state budget, includes amendments that would require voter ID, ask candidates for office governors to choose their own running mates, allow legislators to override regulations without facing a governor’s veto, and establish election audits.

Wolf’s lawsuit says the package violates a constitutional rule prohibiting the passing of legislation dealing with several unrelated topics.

“Unable to implement their radical through the proper legislative channels, the Republican-controlled General Assembly repackaged its failed legislative agenda as SB 106, a joint resolution proposing amendments to the Pennsylvania Constitution,” the lawsuit states.

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The amendment bill passed a 28-22 vote in the state Senate and a 107-92 vote in the House on July 8. The votes were mostly along party lines and Democrats lambasted Republicans over what they say was a ploy to pop the question. to voters in an off-year primary when turnout is often low and seeing more Republican voters turn up at the polls.

Representative Todd Stephens, R-151, of Horsham, who joined the panel of lawmakers and advocates at Friday’s press conference, said afterwards that he voted against SB 106 because it appeared to be considerable government overreach.

“Decisions about women’s health care have to stay between a woman and her doctor and…this would be the first time the constitution would actually prohibit a right or take away a right that people previously enjoyed and I just think that’s is wrong on so many levels,” Stephens said.

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Stephens was one of the few Republican House members to vote against SB 106.

When the legislature begins a new session in January, state lawmakers could vote to add constitutional referendums to the ballot in the May 16 primary.

Wolf also vowed to veto any bill to further restrict access to abortions in Pennsylvania, which currently allows procedures up to 24 weeks of pregnancy with exceptions after that time if health or life of the mother is in danger.

Republicans have increasingly turned to the constitutional amendment process to achieve political goals that Wolf opposes. In 2021, they successfully secured two amendments on the ballot to limit Wolf’s authority during a pandemic emergency, and voters narrowly approved their.

Wolf and other lawmakers also encouraged advocates to keep voters engaged until November, when Shapiro is the Democratic nominee for governor against Republican Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-33, of Franklin County. Although there were hints of Shapiro’s candidacy by Wolf and other speakers, no one specifically referenced the race during the press conference.

Shapiro said the press conference was not a campaign stop, although he responded when pressed about a question about Mastriano’s stance against abortions without exception.

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