Nov 15, 2022 - Business

Abortion rights drew Pennsylvania voters to the polls

Data: #WeCount/Society of Family Planning; Map: Jacque Schrag/Axios
Data: #WeCount/Society of Family Planning; Map: Jacque Schrag/Axios

Abortion proved to be a big motivator for some Americans — and Pennsylvanians — in last week's midterms, the first election in the Keystone State since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

Driving the news: Josh Shapiro's victory has given abortion rights advocates a sense of relief that Pennsylvania's next governor won't roll back protections at the state level.

Why it matters: The future of abortion access at the federal level comes down to the House, which remains too close to call.

  • If the GOP ekes out a narrow majority in the chamber, Republicans could push forward some sort of nationwide abortion restriction or ban. If Dems secure control, President Biden has pledged to pass a bill codifying Roe v. Wade.
  • Yes, but: Biden said Monday he doesn't expect congressional Democrats will have enough votes for an abortion rights bill to go anywhere.

The big picture: The number of abortions performed in the U.S. are estimated to have dropped by about 6% after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June, according to data from the Society of Family Planning, Axios' Caitlin Owens reports.

  • Many states in which abortion remains legal, such as Illinois and North Carolina, saw significant increases in the number of procedures performed, suggesting plenty of people traveled out-of-state to obtain access.

The intrigue: Pennsylvania saw a slight increase from April to August, just 6%, per the data.

  • Abortion providers and funds in the state had estimated a big influx of out-of-state patients seeking care here this year, particularly from Ohio and West Virginia where laws significantly curtail abortion access.

Zoom in: In Philadelphia, a City Council committee advanced a trio of proposals late last week aiming to protect patients seeking abortions and abortion providers, the Inquirer reported.

  • The package includes a measure to prevent workplace discrimination based on reproductive health decisions, and a bill that would make it more difficult to sue patients or providers under laws in states with abortion bans. The bills now go to the full City Council.

What they're saying: While some polls identified it as a top issue among voters, Tara Murtha of the Women's Law Project said election results in Pennsylvania "put to rest the fiction that abortion is controversial" to most Americans.

  • "When the people value a right that politicians are attempting to eliminate, that's called oppression, not controversy," Murtha said.

The other side: Maria Gallagher of the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation told Axios her organization noticed an increase in abortion rights organizations that "aggressively marketed" to out-of-state women to get procedures done here after Roe v. Wade was upended.

  • The organization continues to oppose efforts to make Pennsylvania among more than a dozen states that offer public funding for abortion.

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