Roe v. Wade established a direct right to abortion rights in 1973, and Governor Tom Wolf has been a steadfast supporter of those rights since he began his first term in 2015. But now those rights may be in real danger; Gov. Wolf will be leaving office in 2023, and the Supreme Court will be considering a case to overturn or weaken Roe v. Wade in the summer, leaving many to speculate what consequences could follow for residents across Pennsylvania.
While abortions are currently legal, Pennsylvania has no constitutional or statutory protections in place for abortion rights should Roe v. Wade be overturned. State law prohibits abortion at twenty-four weeks from the last menstrual period and abortions sought for reasons of sex-selection, while also limiting the funding for, and private insurance coverage of, abortion services. Pregnant people who seek abortion care must undergo a mandatory twenty-four-hour waiting period and biased counseling, and requires that a parent, guardian, or judge consent to a minor’s abortion.
Pennsylvania’s pre-Roe ban on abortion was deemed unconstitutional by the state Supreme Court following Roe v. Wade, and repealed in 1974. Should these rights be lost in the coming months, abortion rights will likely remain accessible only so long as Pennsylvanians continue to have a Governor in office who is supportive of those rights.
Nearly two dozen states are positioned to restrict or outright ban abortion should Roe v. Wade be overturned this summer. Members of Pennsylvania’s General Assembly have pushed to join the growing number of states restricting access with six different anti-abortion bills since 2016, all of them unsuccessful, but with three reaching the Governor’s desk. Gov. Wolf has repeatedly stated that he would support abortion access by vetoing anti-abortion legislation, but has also warned that it may not be enough without federal protections.