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New York Times Highlights How Threat to Reproductive Rights in PA is Galvanizing Pennsylvanians to Vote for Democrats

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Josh Shapiro: “The legislature is going to put a bill on the desk of the next governor to ban abortion. Every one of my opponents would sign it into law, and I would veto it.”

New reporting from the New York Times is highlighting how the state of reproductive freedoms in Pennsylvania will come down to who is elected governor in November. While every leading Republican candidate in Pennsylvania’s far-right gubernatorial primary is promising to ban abortion, Attorney General Josh Shapiro continues to be a fierce defender of reproductive rights.

The reporting details how the high stakes for reproductive rights is galvanizing voters to support a Democrat in the governor’s race. One voter, who described herself as “Catholic Republican” said the threat to abortion access is “absolutely,” driving her to vote Democrat, “on that issue alone.” 

All four of the leading GOP gov candidates have said they support extreme abortion bans. Lou Barletta has said he would sign “any bill that comes to my desk that would protect the life of the unborn.” Doug Mastriano said in a recent debate that he was opposed to any exceptions — for rape, incest or the health of the mother — in an abortion ban and has introduced a 6-week abortion ban in the legislature. Meanwhile, Josh Shapiro has promised to veto any anti-abortion legislation that reaches his desk if elected.

“With Roe v. Wade threatened like never before, Josh Shapiro is the only candidate who will protect reproductive freedom in Pennsylvania,” said DGA Deputy Communications Director Sam Newton. “In contrast, the Republican nominee — regardless of who survives their brutal primary — will sign an extreme and dangerous abortion ban into law. For Pennsylvanians who want the government to stay out of their reproductive health care decisions and don’t want to see women thrown in jailed for getting an abortion, the choice for governor couldn’t be clearer.” 

Read more from the New York Times on how the unprecedented threat to abortion access in Pennsylvania is driving voters to vote Democrat in the governor’s race:

New York Times: Midterms’ Biggest Abortion Battleground: Pennsylvania

The leading Republicans running for governor in the state want to outlaw abortion. The presumptive Democratic nominee promises to veto any ban.


Jan Downey, who calls herself “a Catholic Republican,” is so unhappy about the Supreme Court’s likely reversal of abortion rights that she is leaning toward voting for a Democrat for Pennsylvania governor this year.

“Absolutely,” she said. “On that issue alone.”


After a draft of a Supreme Court opinion that would end the constitutional guarantee of abortion rights was leaked last week,  Republicans downplayed the issue, shifting attention instead to the leak itself and away from its substance. They also argued that voters’ attentions were fleeting, that abortion was hardly a silver bullet for Democratic apathy and that more pressing issues — inflation and President Biden’s unpopularity — had already cast the midterm die.

To Democrats, this time really is different.

“These are terrifying times,” said Nancy Patton Mills, chair of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party. “There were so many people that thought that this could never happen.”

If Roe v. Wade is overturned, the power to regulate abortion would return to the states. As many as 28 states are likely to ban or tightly restrict abortion, according to a New York Times analysis.

In four states with politically divided governments and elections for governor this year — Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Kansas — the issue is expected to be a fulcrum of campaigns. In Michigan and Wisconsin, which have anti-abortion laws on the books predating Roe, Democratic governors and attorneys general have vowed to block their implementation. Kansas voters face a referendum in August on codifying that the state constitution does not protect abortion.

Pennsylvania, which has a conservative Republican-led legislature and a term-limited Democratic governor, is the only one of the four states with an open seat for governor.

“The legislature is going to put a bill on the desk of the next governor to ban abortion,” said Josh Shapiro, a Democrat running unopposed for the party’s nomination for governor. “Every one of my opponents would sign it into law, and I would veto it.”

Mr. Shapiro, the state’s attorney general, has been primarily known for defeating multiple cases brought by supporters of Donald J. Trump claiming fraud after he lost Pennsylvania by 80,000 votes in 2020. When Mr. Shapiro began his campaign last year, he focused on voting rights, but he said in an interview last week that he expected the general election to become a referendum on abortion.

His campaign said it had its best day of fund-raising after the Supreme Court draft leaked last week.

He rejected the notion that voters, whose attention spans can be short, will absorb a major Supreme Court reversal and move on by the fall. “I’m going to be talking about rights — from voting rights to reproductive rights — until the polls close at 8 p.m. on Election Day,” Mr. Shapiro said. “People are very concerned about this. I expect that level of concern, of fear, of worry, of anger is going to continue.”

All four of the top Republicans heading into the primary on May 17 have said they favor strict abortion bans. Lou Barletta, a former congressman and one of two front-runners in the race, has said he would sign “any bill that comes to my desk that would protect the life of the unborn.”

Another top candidate, Doug Mastriano, said in a recent debate that he was opposed to any exceptions — for rape, incest or the health of the mother — in an abortion ban. Mr. Mastriano, a state senator, has introduced a bill in Harrisburg to ban abortions after a “fetal heartbeat” is detected, at about six weeks of pregnancy. Another Republican bill would require death certificates and a burial or cremation after miscarriages or abortions.


Soleil Hartwell, 19, who works in a big-box store near Bethlehem, is typical of voters who drop off in midterm elections after voting in presidential years. But Ms. Hartwell said she would vote this year to protect abortion rights. “I don’t have any kids, and I don’t plan on having any yet, but if I was in a situation that required me to, I should be able to” choose the fate of a pregnancy, she said.


In Hanover Township, outside Allentown, an affluent suburb in a onetime Republican enclave that has trended blue, Dave Savage and Vincent Milite, both center-right voters, were analyzing the abortion issue through the eyes of their adult daughters, while loading groceries outside a Wegmans supermarket.

Mr. Savage, 63, said that his 30-year-old daughter felt strongly that abortion should be legal, and that therefore it would be an important issue for him in November.

A retired municipal employee, Mr. Savage said he was an independent voter but had primarily voted Republican most of his life. Come November, he would not support a candidate for governor who opposed abortion rights, he said. “My position is, I don’t have a vagina so I have no skin in the game.”


Mr. Milite, a supervisor in municipal government, said he supported his daughters. “I’m a Republican, but I’m a moderate Republican,” he said. “I’m a Republican because this county was always Republican.”

He said he was undecided about whom to support in this month’s primary. His vote in the general election also seemed up for grabs.

“What’s going to happen is, you’re going to lose a lot of Republican votes” over abortion, Mr. Milite predicted. “I think it’s going to hurt the Republican Party.”