Jul 11, 2022 - Politics

Making sense of the Pennsylvania GOP's push for an abortion constitutional amendment

Illustration of a healthcare cross, half red, half blue, with the colors fighting to take over the whole cross.
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

The Pennsylvania General Assembly passed a bill late Friday night to advance a state constitutional amendment that would explicitly say there is no constitutional right to an abortion or the use of taxpayer funds for an abortion.

State of play: That doesn't mean any immediate changes. The bill has to pass the General Assembly next session and be publicly advertised before being put to voters. The earliest it could show up on a ballot is next year — potentially the May 2023 primary.

  • Worth noting: An off-cycle primary would usually be a great place for the GOP to slide the amendment past Democrats because of low voter turnout, but Philly is gearing up for a heated Democratic mayoral contest.

The impact, should the amendment actually come to pass:

  • What it would do: If a future Republican governor restricted the right to abortion in Pennsylvania, the amendment makes it almost impossible to challenge in state court.
  • What it wouldn't do: It doesn't restrict abortion access on its own. It aims to make any future restrictions difficult to peel back.
  • What's unclear: The ACLU has argued that it could ultimately allow state politicians to also regulate things like IVF and contraception.
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