SCOTUS' ruling on Mississippi abortion case could impact Pennsylvania
Abortion will remain legal in Pennsylvania, up to about 24 weeks, if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade. But protections are still vulnerable.
Driving the news: The nation's high court heard oral arguments Wednesday in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, a case over Mississippi's law banning abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
The big picture: The Supreme Court's decision could potentially overturn the 1973 ruling, which set the precedent for a constitutional right to abortion.
- Without Roe, abortion laws vary by state, Axios' Oriana Gonzalez reports. Abortion would immediately become illegal in 12 states, none of which are located in the Northeast or Mid-Atlantic region.
Zoom in: Pennsylvania isn't one of the 15 states with laws explicitly legalizing abortion, but it does have a long list of patchwork abortion restrictions.
- Pennsylvania bans abortions after 24 weeks. If Roe v. Wade is reversed, the state legislature could create a more restrictive law and send it to the governor to sign.
Between the lines: Gov. Tom Wolf has vowed to veto any bills that come to his desk aiming to restrict abortion access. He's shut down three so far.
- However, Pennsylvania has a Republican-controlled legislature, and the term-limited governor's seat is up for grabs next year.
- Having both Republican-controlled executive and legislative branches would likely change the dynamics, potentially allowing for stricter laws to be enacted faster.
What they're saying: "I remain committed to do everything in my power to protect these rights for the rest of my term. Abortion is health care. It must remain safe and legal," Wolf said.
- Attorney General Josh Shapiro, who's running for governor next year, called this case an attempt to "rob women of their constitutional right to control their own bodies."
- Shapiro filed an amicus brief with several other states arguing Mississippi's law is unconstitutional.
The other side: Former Republican congressman and governor hopeful Lou Barletta told Axios in a statement that he hopes SCOTUS upholds the Mississippi law.
- "As Americans, we should do all that we can to protect the most vulnerable, and that should include unborn children," he said.
- State Sen. Doug Mastriano, who's expected to run for governor, introduced a bill earlier this year that would ban abortions if a doctor can detect a heartbeat, which can happen as early as six weeks. He sponsored similar legislation in 2019.
- Meanwhile, Republicans in the House and Senate are trying to amend Pennsylvania's constitution to clarify that there's no right to an abortion.
The bottom line: Realistically, abortion is safe in Pennsylvania for now, but that can change with next year's election season.
What to watch: The Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling in the summer of 2022.
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