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Will Abortion Stay Legal In Pennsylvania?

Abortion access in Pennsylvania hinges on the governor’s race between Republican Doug Mastriano and Democrat Josh Shapiro.


Transcript

Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux: When Pennsylvanians head to the polls in November, their votes could decide whether abortion stays legal in their state.

Right now, abortion is legal up until 24 weeks of pregnancy, with some restrictions like state-mandated counseling and a waiting period.

But things could change if Pennsylvania’s Republican-controlled legislature has its way. In the past few years, Pennsylvania’s House and Senate passed three bills that would have restricted abortion access. The current Democratic governor, Tom Wolf, vetoed both of them.

Now that Roe v. Wade has been overturned, Republicans in the state legislature are likely to push for even more restrictive abortion laws. That’s especially likely if Doug Mastriano, the Republican nominee, wins the election for governor. Mastriano is a highly conservative state senator who has said that abortion should not be legal in any situation.

Doug Mastriano: That baby deserves a right to life whether it was conceived in incest or rape, or whether there are concerns otherwise for the mom.

Thomson-DeVeaux: Mastriano’s Democratic opponent, Josh Shapiro, is the state’s attorney general. He’s made his stance on the decision to overturn Roe very clear:

Josh Shapiro: To the doctors and patients in Pennsylvania who are worried about how this decision will impact them, know that the full force of my office will be there to protect you.

Thomson-DeVeaux: As a candidate for governor, he’s said that he would protect current Pennsylvania law and veto new abortion restrictions.

If Republicans want to restrict or ban abortion, they need both to hold onto the state legislature and flip the governor’s mansion.

Right now, it seems very likely that Pennsylvania Republicans will hold onto the Senate. The House, on the other hand, is more competitive, although Republicans still have an advantage.

Perhaps most importantly, the governor’s race is looking good for the Democrat. That doesn’t mean Mastriano is destined to lose, of course — but the current focus on abortion probably isn’t helping him.

According to a Franklin & Marshall College poll conducted in August, 9 in 10 Pennsylvanians want abortion to be legal in at least some cases. So it’s possible that Mastriano’s extreme views on abortion could actually be putting him in political peril. And he’s been pretty quiet about his views on the issue since Roe was overturned.

The stakes for abortion rights in Pennsylvania are very high. Now it’s up to the voters to decide.

Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux is a senior writer for FiveThirtyEight.

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