Abortion access will remain legal in Pennsylvania, as the commonwealth’s new Democratic majority in the state House can now defeat a Republican-proposed constitutional amendment that seeks to restrict reproductive freedom.
Pennsylvania voters sent a loud and clear message on Nov. 8 when they elected Democrat Josh Shapiro to the governor’s office and elected a Democratic majority to the state House—and that message was that they want abortion to remain legal in the commonwealth.
Now, they’re all but certain to get their wish, as the election of a pro-choice governor and state House effectively spells the end of Republican efforts to ban abortion in Pennsylvania.
Shapiro, the incumbent state attorney general, has vowed to defend access to abortion, which is currently legal up to and through 24 weeks in Pennsylvania. Shapiro’s victory over far-right, anti-abortion state Sen. Doug Mastriano means that any Republican-introduced bills seeking to ban abortion will fail.
But it’s the Democratic state House majority that really guarantees continued access to abortion care in Pennsylvania. Earlier this year, the incumbent Republican majority in the state legislature passed a bill that would amend the state constitution to clarify that there is no right to an abortion or taxpayer funding of abortions under the Pennsylvania constitution.
Because the GOP bill seeks to amend the constitution, it has to win support in the House and Senate in two consecutive sessions before it would be placed on voters’ ballots—a process that would allow Republicans to effectively bypass the governor’s veto pen.
Republicans will still control the state Senate in the next session, and if they had retained control of the state House on Tuesday, they could have passed that bill again next year, which would have placed it on voters’ ballots as early as 2023, potentially endangering abortion rights in Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania’s midterm results ensure that will not happen, however, as the Democratic House majority can now defeat the proposed amendment and protect abortion rights in Pennsylvania.