The Lead

Planned Parenthood’s political arm ramps up ad campaign focused on Pa. Supreme Court race

By: - September 21, 2023 7:00 am

Demonstrators protest outside the Pennsylvania Capitol in Harrisburg on Tuesday, May 3, 2022 (Capital-Star photo).

The political arm of reproductive rights organization Planned Parenthood is ramping up its ad campaign focused on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court election, making its largest investment ever in a state Supreme Court race.

Planned Parenthood Votes announced it was expanding last month’s digital campaign and adding a seven-figure television ad buy. “Erased” will run across television, streaming and digital channels in the Pittsburgh and Philadelphia areas. Like last month’s ad campaign, it focuses on Republican candidate Carolyn Carluccio, who is running against Democrat Daniel McCaffery for the seat left vacant when Justice Max Baer died last year.

According to the new ad, Carluccio not only deleted her views on abortion from her website, but has been endorsed by the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation and the Pro-Life Coalition of Pennsylvania, both of which oppose abortion. “Pennsylvania Supreme Court candidate Carolyn Carluccio is a threat to our abortion rights,” the ad states.

Screen cap of Planned Parenthood Votes ad.

In response to a request for comment, Carluccio campaign spokesperson Rob Brooks said when the campaign redesigned her website “we chose to no longer include a resume link,” which was where Carluccio noted that she would “defend all life under the law.” He added that  “Planned Parenthood knows that women’s reproductive rights in Pennsylvania are protected by law, and they also know that Judge Carluccio has made clear she would uphold that law. In fact, her views on this issue have been published on numerous national, state and local news sources.”

The Associated Press reported that during the primary campaign, Carluccio’s website referred to her as a defender of “all life under the law,” language which no longer appears on the site. She told the AP in a statement that “Women’s reproductive rights are protected by Pennsylvania law,” and she would uphold that law. SpotlightPA reported that Carluccio has said she rejects “judicial activism.” A judge on the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas since 2010, Carluccio told Ballotpedia in a survey that as a judge  she was “impartial and apply the law as it is written. I will not legislate from the bench.”

Brooks added that “Judge Carluccio is not an activist judge,” and doesn’t think it is her role to legislate from the bench. “The only way access to women’s reproductive rights can be changed in Pennsylvania is through the Governor and Legislature. I trust Planned Parenthood knows that as well.”

Democrats have a 4-2 majority on the state’s highest court, and justices serve 10-year terms. The terms of three of the four Democratic justices  — Christine Donohue, David N. Wecht, and Kevin M. Dougherty —end on Jan. 4, 2026.

Planned Parenthood Votes campaign director Breana Ross criticized Carluccio for “scrubbing her website”  in a statement, and said that Pennsylvania voters “know that the person elected to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court will determine the future of abortion access in their state.”

This article was updated at 7:35 a.m. Sept. 21, 2023 to add comment from a spokesperson for the Carluccio campaign.

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Kim Lyons
Kim Lyons

Kim Lyons is a veteran western Pennsylvania journalist who has covered people and trends in politics and business for local and national publications. Follow her on Threads @social_kimly