‘Bans off our bodies’ rally planned for Pennsylvania, nationwide

The national day of action comes nearly two weeks after a leaked U.S. Supreme Court draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade

By: - May 13, 2022 10:59 am

Abortion-rights advocates stage a protest outside U.S. Associate Justice Samuel Alito’s house after an initial draft majority opinion he wrote would overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

As part of a national day of action in response to the U.S. Supreme Court draft opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade, reproductive rights advocates, health professionals, and lawmakers will take to the state Capitol steps on Saturday — with thousands expected to participate in demonstrations statewide.

The “Bans Off Our Bodies” event organized by Planned Parenthood Southeastern Pennsylvania, Planned Parenthood Keystone, and Planned Parenthood Western Pennsylvania will join nationwide efforts to defend abortion access at 1 p.m. in Harrisburg.

“We are in a crisis moment. Make no mistake about it,” Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania CEO Dayle Steinberg said during a recent press conference. “The threat is not hypothetical. The court clearly seems prepared to end the constitutional right to abortion.”

The national day of action comes nearly two weeks after a leaked U.S. Supreme Court draft opinion, written by Justice Samuel Alito, overturning the 1973 decision that declared access to an abortion a constitutional right, and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, a 1992 decision that maintained the right.

If the U.S. Supreme Court does vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, a decision likely to come next month, more than a dozen states could move to curtail abortion access across the country.

Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat and former Planned Parenthood volunteer, has vowed to veto any legislation restricting abortion access in Pennsylvania. Wolf has vetoed three bills curtailing the procedure that the Republican-controlled Legislature passed.

“Let me be clear — abortion access and reproductive health care will remain legal and safe as long as I am governor,” Wolf said in a statement. “But Roe v. Wade, abortion access, and reproductive rights are under attack.”

But with the term-limited governor leaving office in January 2023 and a series of proposals to limit abortion access circulating in the General Assembly, abortion access has become a centerpiece in the gubernatorial race.

Attorney General Josh Shapiro, the only Democrat running for governor, has long spoken against restricting abortion access. During a December press conference on reproductive rights, Shapiro said the court was “sadly” moving to take away the right to a “safe, legal abortion for women all across America.”

More than a dozen state legislatures have imagined a post-Roe era, with bills to limit abortion access. And if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns the landmark case, more could follow.

Current Pennsylvania law permits abortion for any reason, except for selecting a gender, as long as six months — or 24 weeks — into a pregnancy. In 2019, the state Health Department reported 31,018 abortions.

Pennsylvania Republicans have proposed limitations on abortion providers, including a bill that requires fetuses receive pain medication before an abortion. GOP lawmakers have also introduced a proposed constitutional amendment that, if approved by voters, would amend the state’s governing document to state that there is no constitutional right to abortion or public funding for the procedure.

The Republican candidates vying for governor in Pennsylvania are united in curtailing abortion access. But they are divided on how to handle legislation restricting the procedures, especially on timelines for bans and exceptions for rape, incest, or when the mother’s life is at risk.

“Every supporter, every partner, every person who believes that the right to an abortion is a fundamental right in this country will take action on May 14 to make clear that this fight is far from over,” Planned Parenthood of Pennsylvania said in a statement. “Pennsylvanians will join together in a show of solidarity to declare that no judge, no politician, no ban should ever steal our freedoms or set the course for your life.”

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