As part of Governor Tom Wolf’s ongoing commitment to protect a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions, today he filed a lawsuit against the Republican-led General Assembly for their unconstitutional attempt to ban abortion in Pennsylvania.
“The Republican-led General Assembly continues to take extraordinary steps to dismantle access to abortion and implement a radical agenda. Frustrated that their legislation may face my veto pen again, they instead loaded multiple unrelated constitutional amendments into a joint resolution and rammed the bill through during the budget process,” Gov. Wolf said. “As long as I remain governor, I will take every step to ensure that abortion remains legal, safe and accessible in Pennsylvania.”
In the court filing to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, Governor Wolf asserted that the Pennsylvania Constitution explicitly recognizes a personal right to privacy, with such a right including the right to terminate a pregnancy. The proposed amendment on abortion under the joint resolution violates this right. Further, the governor asserted that the multiple, unrelated amendments packaged as a single joint resolution are unconstitutional because the General Assembly pushed the proposed amendments forward without allowing each proposed amendment to be voted upon separately.
The governor has expedited this request to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court because the Pennsylvania Department of State is constitutionally required to publicly advertise the amendments beginning Aug. 2. For this reason, Pennsylvania’s Acting Secretary of State Leigh M. Chapman is also named in the governor’s court filing.
Joint resolutions are constitutional amendments that do not require the governor’s signature and cannot be vetoed by the governor. They must be approved during two consecutive legislative sessions before being placed on the ballot. The proposed amendments packaged in the joint resolution must be approved by the legislature again in 2023-24 legislative session. On the current course, it’s possible that the amendments could be on the ballot in 2023.
“Make no mistake, this is a coordinated effort to take away reproductive rights. Further, Republicans moved Senate Bill 106 with the goal of creating a path toward an abortion ban without public debate and under the cover of night,” Gov. Wolf said. “Today, in the light of day, I am fulfilling my commitment to do everything I can to protect these rights.”
Since taking office in 2015, Governor Wolf has vetoed three different anti-abortion bills introduced by members of the General Assembly and vowed to veto the rest.
On June 24, 2022, the US Supreme Court reversed nearly 50 years of settled precedent and overturned two of its landmark decisions in ruling that the US Constitution does not confer a right to abortion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Org. However, abortion services are available and unharmed in Pennsylvania by this Supreme Court action for now.
In May, Governor Wolf joined 16 governors across the nation to call for immediate passage of the federal Women’s Health Protection Act.
This month, the governor applauded President Joe Biden for taking executive action to protect reproductive health.
Also this month, the governor signed an Executive Order protecting out-of-state residents who may enter Pennsylvania to access reproductive health care services in the commonwealth.