Jul 28, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Gov. Wolf sues Pennsylvania legislature over proposed abortion amendment

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) speaking in Malvern in October 2020.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) speaking in Malvern in October 2020. Photo: Pete Bannan/MediaNews Group/Daily Local News via Getty Image

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) on Thursday filed a lawsuit against the state's Republican-led legislature over a constitutional amendment it passed earlier this month that would explicitly say there is no constitutional right to an abortion or the use of taxpayer funds for an abortion in the state.

Why it matters: The amendment, which still has to pass the General Assembly next session and be passed by voters to take effect, could prevent future restrictions on abortion from being challenged in state court, Axios' Shane Savitsky reports.

  • The ACLU argued that the amendment, which could appear on the ballot next year, may also allow state lawmakers to regulate birth control methods.

What they're saying: Wolf's filing to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court argues that the amendment violates the state's constitution, which recognizes a personal right to privacy.

  • “The Republican-led General Assembly continues to take extraordinary steps to dismantle access to abortion and implement a radical agenda," Wolf said in a statement.
  • "Frustrated that their legislation may face my veto pen again, they instead loaded multiple unrelated constitutional amendments into ​a joint resolution and rammed the bill through during the budget process,” he added.
  • “As long as I remain governor, I will take every step to ensure that abortion remains legal, safe and accessible in Pennsylvania.”

The state constitution prevents the governor from vetoing proposed constitutional amendments.

  • After the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, Wolf signed an executive order that protects the right to an abortion or other forms of reproductive health care for state residents and out-of-state visitors.

The big picture: November's gubernatorial election may determine the future of abortion access in Pennsylvania, Axios' Mike D'Onofrio and Taylor Allen report.

  • Republican candidate for governor Doug Mastriano pledged to completely ban abortions in the state and, as a state senator, sponsored legislation that would ban abortion once a "fetal heartbeat" is detected.
  • He faces Democratic candidate Josh Shapiro, who has said he would defend abortion rights.

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