Gov. Tom Wolf speaks to a joint session of the Pennsylvania House and Senate in Harrisburg, on Feb. 8, 2022. (AP File Photo/Matt Rourke) Tom Wolf
Gov. Tom Wolf speaks to a joint session of the Pennsylvania House and Senate in Harrisburg, on Feb. 8, 2022. (AP File Photo/Matt Rourke)

Wolf signed an executive order Tuesday that protects out-of-state individuals seeking abortion services in the commonwealth.

Gov. Tom Wolf is taking a page from other Democratic governors’ playbooks and providing protections for out-of-state patients seeking abortion services in Pennsylvania, as well as for the medical professionals who provide the services.

In a statement after signing an executive order Tuesday, Wolf said he would refuse a request from any other state to arrest or detain any out-of-state resident who had traveled to Pennsylvania to seek an abortion and anyone providing or assisting with the procedure.

Wolf’s order is similar to those of Democratic governors in California, Colorado, North Carolina and elsewhere.

Attempts to protect abortion rights come on the heels of tighter restrictions and bans taking effect in Republican-led states, such as neighboring Ohio and West Virginia, after the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last month.

“By signing this executive order, I am affirming that individuals seeking and providing reproductive health services are safe in the commonwealth from discipline and prosecution,” he wrote in a statement.

Wolf’s order does the following:

  • Directs executive agencies not to respond to inquiries from other states regarding care or assistance provided to persons from other states in Pennsylvania
  • Declines any extradition requests that may be received from other states where the violation involves the provision or receipt of reproductive care (unless there is an associated crime being committed under Pennsylvania law or federal law)
  • Directs agencies to work with Boards of Professional and Occupational Licensure to ensure that no person will be disqualified from licensure or subject to discipline for providing or assisting in the lawful provision of reproductive health care services in the commonwealth
  • Directs executive agencies to implement steps to inform the public of the availability of reproductive health care

Abortion remains legal in Pennsylvania up to 24 weeks of pregnancy. Wolf supports abortion rights and has vetoed multiple bills from the Republican-controlled Legislature over the past five years to restrict the procedure.

Members of the Pennsylvania Women’s Health Caucus sent Wolf a letter Monday asking him to protect abortion care providers in the commonwealth who treat out-of-state patients.

“We want to make it clear as can be that abortion is still legal in Pennsylvania, and we will not allow neighboring states to dictate or intimidate providers in the commonwealth,” Sen. Judy Schwank (D-Berks) said. “It’s unthinkable that a medical professional could be charged with a crime or face jail time for providing an individual with a safe medical procedure.”