May 5, 2022 - News

Gov. Tom Wolf and Dems rally for abortion rights but offer few answers

Gov. Tom Wolf is flanked by other Democratic officials and abortion-rights activists.

Gov. Tom Wolf, center, defends access to abortion rights during a rally at the Independence National Historical Park on Wednesday. Photo: Mike D'Onofrio/Axios

Democratic officials and abortion rights advocates rallied in Philly on Wednesday to raise alarm over the threat of the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade if the leaked draft opinion holds.

  • But beyond electing more pro-abortion rights Democrats, they had few answers about how to maintain abortion access in Pennsylvania if Republicans maintain control of the legislature and win back the governor's mansion in November.

Driving the news: Gov. Tom Wolf sidestepped questions Wednesday about whether he was weighing any executive actions to maintain access to abortions after his term ends early next year.

  • "As long as I'm in power, I can do things that the people and the Constitution give me the ability to do. What I can't do, is put something into place for life," Wolf said, while flanked by officials at the Independence National Historical Park.

Some officials also took political shots at the Supreme Court, accusing justices of threatening other precedents that have secured gay marriage, voting rights and more.

  • "Make no mistake, everything will be on the line with this extremist Supreme Court," said U.S. Rep. Madeleine Dean, whose 4th District includes parts of Philadelphia.
  • State House Democratic Leader Rep. Joanna McClinton said, "We're going to make sure that when we put people on the Supreme Court, that they interpret the law, that they don't give us the law."

Reality check: Pennsylvania hasn't implemented any so-called trigger laws to restrict or ban abortions if the Supreme Court overturns Roe.

  • However, proposals to restrict abortions are already being considered in the GOP-controlled state House.
  • Wolf has pledged to veto any anti-abortion rights legislation that lands on his desk while in office.

What they're saying: Dayle Steinberg, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Southeastern Pennsylvania, warned that the nation is in a "crisis moment" that could open the doors for a nationwide abortion ban.

Meanwhile, Jason Gottesman, a spokesperson for state House Republicans, cautioned that the leaked draft opinion isn't final, saying it would be premature for the GOP to discuss future plans.

  • "We will continue to review pending pro-life legislation, and any further decisions will be made through the course of the normal legislative process," he said.
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