Pennsylvania GOP's Gross Anti-Abortion Constitutional Amendment Can Still Be Stopped!
Late Friday night, the Pennsylvania legislature passed a bill that would add an amendment to the state constitution explicitly saying that the state constitution does not protect the right to an abortion, as part of a joint resolution that included five other potential amendments written by Republicans (including requiring voter ID and establishing election audits).
Right now, it's not as bad as what is happening in other states. It's not an explicit banning of abortion. The amendment has not been passed and will not be added to the constitution. In order for that to happen, it has to go through another round of passage in both chambers and then voted on by the people, which could happen as early as the May 2023 primary.
Here's where it gets real dicey. If the amendment is added to the state constitution, a Republican governor could pass restrictions on abortion that could not be challenged in court. There would be absolutely no recourse, at least until the next election.
Democrats in the Pennsylvania House and Senate were understandably not too happy with any of this.
“Women should have the right to their own bodies, full stop, full stop,” Sen. Lindsey Williams, D-Allegheny, told the Associated Press. “If you don’t want to have an abortion, don’t have one, but don’t take away my right or the right of other women in this commonwealth to make that decision for herself.”
House Democratic Leader Joanna McClinton was beyond pissed and not exactly afraid to let her Republican colleagues know what she thought of them and their crap bill.
“We’re talking about women dying,” McClintock said. “We’re talking about more than half the population not being able to make decisions, when not even half of this body has a uterus.”
“But here we are being silenced yet again,” she continued. “And understand when you’re silencing us, we are actually elected officials like you all. So you’re silencing millions of voters from every corner of the Commonwealth. When you silence us and don’t allow us to amend bills that won’t let people vote, that won’t allow women to make their own decisions, you’re silencing all of us.”
McClinton is not just a House rep, she's also a preacher, which likely accounts for her public speaking skills. (Really, please watch the above!)
According to recent polls, the vast majority of voters in the state believe that abortion should remain legal — with 31 percent saying they believe it should be legal in all circumstances and an additional 53 percent saying it should be legal in certain circumstances. Only 16 percent of Pennsylvania voters say it should be illegal in all circumstances. So if it comes to a vote and enough people vote, there is a pretty good chance it will be voted down.
The fact that it will likely be voted on in May in an off-year primary is, however, not great. There's the Philadelphia mayoral election, which should definitely help get voters in that area to the polls, but there's still going to need to be a major Get Out The Vote initiative in the rest of the state.
It's now more important than ever that Josh Shapiro win his bid to become Pennsylvania's next governor, because if Doug Mastriano wins in November and this amendment is added to the state constitution, you can bet your ass he will immediately outlaw abortion throughout the state.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse