State Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Franklin, attends the Senate Education Committee hearing held at the Pennsylvania Capitol on May 24, 2022 in Harrisburg, Pa. (Photo by Amanda Berg for the Capital-Star).
In 2019, current Republican gubernatorial nominee Doug Mastriano told a radio interviewer that women who violated his proposed abortion ban should be charged with murder, according to a published report.
Mastriano, an ultra-conservative state senator from Franklin County, made his comments during an interview with WITF-FM in Harrisburg, NBC News reported on Tuesday. The Republican’s remarks in the interview were previously unreported, according to NBC News.
At the time, Mastriano was sponsoring a so-called ‘heartbeat bill,’ which would ban abortion at as early as six weeks, which is before most people know they are pregnant.
According to NBC News, Mastriano was asked whether a woman who decided to get an abortion at 10 weeks gestation would be charged with murder.
“OK, let’s go back to the basic question there,” Mastriano said, according to NBC News. “Is that a human being? Is that a little boy or girl? If it is, it deserves equal protection under the law.”
“Asked if he was saying yes, they should be charged with murder, Mastriano responded: ‘Yes, I am,'” NBC News reported.
The fight over abortion rights has taken center stage in the contest to succeed current Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, a former Planned Parenthood volunteer, who has vetoed a series of anti-abortion bills sent to him by Pennsylvania’s Republican-controlled General Assembly.
Wolf, of York County, will leave office in January 2023, after serving the constitutional maximum of two, four-year terms.
Mastriano, a retired U.S. Army colonel and election-denier who has the backing of former President Donald Trump, is an ardent abortion rights foe who has said he opposes exceptions for rape, incest, and the life of the pregnant person. He faces Democratic Attorney General Josh Shapiro, who has said he will defend abortion access if elected in November.
Mastriano’s campaign did not respond to requests for comment by NBC News.
But in a previous broadcast interview, he painted his views as “irrelevant,” arguing that any abortion bill would be sent to him by the Legislature.
“My views are kind of irrelevant because I cannot rule by fiat or edict or executive order on the issue of life,” Mastriano told the conservative network Real America’s Voice in an interview he posted to his Twitter page on Monday, NBC News reported.
“It’s up to the people of Pennsylvania,” Mastriano continued. “So if Pennsylvanians want exceptions, if they want to limit the number of weeks, it’s going to have to come from your legislative body and then to my desk.”
In a statement obtained by NBC News, Shapiro’s campaign called Mastriano’s remarks “extreme.”
“Doug Mastriano has said his number one priority is banning abortion with no exceptions for rape, incest, or the life of the mother — and now, it’s clear he also wants to prosecute women for murder for making personal healthcare decisions,” spokesperson Manuel Bonder said. “Mastriano has the most extreme anti-choice position in the country — and there is no limit to how far he would go to take away Pennsylvania women’s freedom.”
In a separate statement, a spokesperson for Planned Parenthood Votes, the political wing of the reproductive health organization, called Mastriano an “anti-abortion extremist.”
“Though he has tried to downplay it in recent weeks, Doug Mastriano cannot hide who he truly is: an anti-abortion extremist who wants to criminalize patients simply for seeking essential health care,” the group’s Pennsylvania state director, Cortney Bouse, said.
“It is clear that Mastriano will stop at nothing to further his radical agenda and eliminate Pennsylvanians’ fundamental right to bodily autonomy,” Bouse continued. “This November, voters are going to take control and let Doug Mastriano, [Republican] U.S. Senate candidate Mehmet Oz, and all anti-abortion politicians know they cannot control Pennsylvanians’ bodies, lives, and futures.”
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