PITTSBURGH — On Friday, the United States Supreme Court issued its decision in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, overturning Roe v. Wade.
The high court has decided that a 2018 Mississippi state law banning abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy is constitutional.
States can now move to ban abortion. About half of them have already indicated a willingness to do so.
So, what does that mean for Pennsylvania?
Abortion is legal in Pennsylvania under decades of state law, including a 1989 law that was challenged all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. That produced the landmark Planned Parenthood v. Casey ruling, which affirmed the high court’s 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion nationwide, but also allowed states to put certain limits on abortion access.
Gov. Tom Wolf issued a statement, saying “abortion services are available and unharmed by today’s ruling.”
Since taking office, Wolf has vetoed three different anti-abortion bills passed by Pennsylvania’s General Assembly and vowed to veto the rest.
The state would become a so-called “safe haven,” where women from other states could travel here for abortion services. However, voters could change that in November — when Wolf leaves office.
Running to replace him is the state’s Democratic attorney general, Josh Shapiro, who supports abortion rights, and Republican state Sen. Doug Mastriano, who has said he supports banning abortion altogether, with no exceptions. The Legislature is expected to remain in Republican hands next year.
What’s next: Legislation to outlaw abortion after the detection of a fetal heartbeat — which can happen at six weeks, before many women even know they are pregnant — has passed a House committee and is awaiting a floor vote. The state Supreme Court is considering a lawsuit filed by Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers aiming to overturn a 1982 law that bans the use of state dollars for abortion, except in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother. In response, Republican lawmakers are advancing a proposed amendment that would declare there is no constitutional right to an abortion in Pennsylvania or to public funding for an abortion.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
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