In the wake of last Friday’s Supreme Court decision scrapping Roe v. Wade, we’re taking a look at the state of affairs for abortion access locally, where Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania elected officials and candidates stand and how you can get involved if you’re concerned about the ruling. We’ve got everything summed up below.
📜 The decision: On June 24, six weeks after someone leaked a draft of the majority opinion to POLITICO, six of the Supreme Court’s nine justices struck down Roe v. Wade in their ruling in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. The case had challenged Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban. Though Chief Justice John Roberts joined the majority in their judgment, he called the Dobbs decision a “serious jolt to the legal system.” The court’s three liberal-leaning justices deplored the decision in their dissent, decrying its impact on Americans and the court’s reputation.
💬 What elected officials say: Pittsburgh mayor Ed Gainey said, “abortion is still legal in Pennsylvania and I will do whatever it takes to protect and defend that right.” Gainey appeared before protestors over the weekend and reiterated his commitment to abortion access, and upcoming legislation could further codify support for abortion within city limits. PA Governor Tom Wolf called the decision “disappointing” and said bodily autonomy in the United States was under attack. Meanwhile, local Republican politicians including Rep. Mike Kelly (PA-16) hailed the decision and said their work “has only begun.” GOP lawmakers at the state level have put forth seven bills seeking to roll back abortions since 2021.
🗳 Where the candidates stand: Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano, whose platform includes a “heartbeat bill” and vow to defund Planned Parenthood, retweeted politicians and citizens who celebrated the decision throughout the weekend. Despite his prior ambiguity around abortion, GOP Senate nominee Mehmet Oz also voiced support for overturning Roe. Democratic candidates have universally spoken up against the Dobbs ruling, with Josh Shapiro vowing to uphold abortion’s legality if elected governor and John Fetterman saying Democrats are unified in their support of abortion access.
🏛 Current law says: Abortion is legal in PA up to 24 weeks from conception. The Abortion Control Act limits women’s ability to have the procedure covered by insurance if they buy insurance through the public marketplace, however. Gov. Wolf, a former Planned Parenthood volunteer, has repeatedly vetoed attempts to further restrict access to abortion in the Commonwealth. Many expect Pittsburgh to become a destination for those seeking abortions if the procedure is banned in neighboring states like Ohio.
🆘 Who’s helping on the ground: Locals rallied downtown to protest the decision last Friday and Saturday. The recently organized Abortion Defense Committee has worked to coordinate protests and volunteer efforts. The Western Pennsylvania Fund for Choice and Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania both accept donations to support work around abortion access.