Many of Pa.’s GOP gubernatorial hopefuls see a blueprint in Texas abortion law

Written by on September 9, 2021

Many of Pa.’s GOP gubernatorial hopefuls see a blueprint in Texas abortion law

By Katie Meyer

September 9, 2021

In this Thursday, May 23, 2019 file photo, Demonstrators chant slogans during a rally in support of abortion rights in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File)

With a ban on abortions after six weeks of pregnancy now in effect in Texas, and rampant speculation that a conservative U.S. Supreme Court might be willing to overturn Roe v. Wade to usher in abortion restrictions more broadly, the issue is being freshly debated in statehouses across the country.

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With Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, a staunch abortion rights proponent, more than halfway through his second term, that debate is poised to become key in Pennsylvania’s 2022 gubernatorial race.

In the Republican field, nearly all the major candidates say they’d support following Texas’s lead.

The GOP field is crowded, and still forming. But of six likely candidates, five have indicated they’d support some form of abortion restriction.

State Sen. Doug Mastriano, a close ally of former president Donald Trump who is widely expected to run for governor, didn’t respond to a request for comment. But he wrote on his Facebook page that the U.S. Supreme Court’s lack of action to block the Texas law is “great news” and “a victory for States’ rights.” He has also sponsored legislation in the past that would functionally outlaw most abortions by banning them after six weeks.

A spokesperson for Lou Barletta, the former Pennsylvania congressman and unsuccessful 2018 U.S. Senate candidate, said in a statement that “everyone knows that Lou Barletta is pro-life,” adding that Barletta is “not going to predict what kind of legislation will come to his desk, but when he’s governor he will be a pro-life governor.”

Charlie Gerow, a longtime GOP strategist now running for governor, said while he’s not convinced the court is primed to formally uphold Texas’s law or overturn Roe v. Wade, he’d be happy to see significant abortion restrictions in Pennsylvania.

Specifically, he said, he supported a bill that passed the legislature in 2019 that would have banned abortions performed on a basis of a Down syndrome diagnosis, and a 2017 bill that would have narrowed the state’s legal abortion window from 24 to 20 weeks and banned a common procedure known as dilation and evacuation. Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf vetoed both of those bills.

“I think that scaling back abortion is a good idea,” Gerow said. “We have way too many abortions in Pennsylvania, way too many in America. And the old adage about it being rare is completely out the window.”

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