The Lead

Wolf: In wake of leaked Supreme Court opinion on Roe, ‘abortion is and will remain legal in Pennsylvania’

By: - May 3, 2022 7:33 am

Abortion rights supporters rally at the Pa. State Capitol on Tuesday, 5/21/19, as part of a national day of action (Capital-Star photo by John L. Micek)

Gov. Tom Wolf says “abortion is and will remain legal in Pennsylvania,” in the wake of an unprecedented leak of a draft U.S. Supreme Court opinion apparently overturning Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that established a constitutional right to abortion in the United States.

Politico broke the news of the draft opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito holding that “Roe and [Planned Parenthood v.] Casey must be overruled.” The latter is a reference to the high court’s 1992 ruling in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which further clarified abortion law.

A ruling overturning Roe would return decisions over abortion rights to individual states, which could then move to severely restrict or ban access to abortion. The high court is expected to announce its opinion when its current term ends in June.

Abortion is currently legal in Pennsylvania, though Republicans who control the General Assembly have repeatedly passed bills seeking to restrict abortion access. In all, 26 states are certain, or likely, to ban abortion, if the high court overturns Roe, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

“Three things to keep in mind,” Wolf, a Democrat who has consistently vetoed anti-abortion rights legislation, tweeted on Monday night “An official ruling has not yet been made; once the [Supreme Court] does rule, it’s up to states to pass legislation to change abortion laws; I’ll veto any anti-choice legislation that lands on my desk.”

Wolf, however, is term-limited, and will leave office in January 2023. That’s put a further spotlight on the nationally watched contest to succeed him.

Democratic Attorney General Josh Shapiro, who is running without opposition in the May 17 primary, has vowed to be a similar bulwark against GOP attacks on abortion access.

All four of the leading Republicans vying for the GOP nomination oppose abortion rights, with two of the candidates, state Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Franklin, and former Delaware County Councilmember Dave White, saying they’d sign legislation that does not include exceptions for rape, incest or where the health of a pregnant person is in danger.

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John L. Micek
John L. Micek

A 3-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's Editor-in-Chief. An award-winning political reporter, Micek’s career has taken him from small town meetings and Chicago City Hall to Congress and the Pennsylvania Capitol. His weekly column on U.S. politics is syndicated to 800 newspapers nationwide by Cagle Syndicate. He also contributes commentary and analysis to broadcast outlets in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. Micek’s first novel, “Ordinary Angels,” was released in 2019 by Sunbury Press.