Here’s what Pennsylvania’s gubernatorial race could mean for abortion access

If elected, Josh Shapiro has vowed to veto anti-abortion legislation and Doug Mastriano would likely sign anti-abortion legislation.


Abortion is a high-stakes issue in the 2022 Pennsylvania Gubernatorial race. Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro (D) vowed to protect abortion access, while state Sen. Doug Mastriano (R-33) wants to restrict the procedure. 

“The ability to veto or to sign into law abortion restrictions makes the governor’s race relevant to the abortion question,” said Rachel Rebouché, the dean of the Beasley School of Law.

In Pennsylvania, providers can perform abortions up to about 24 weeks into pregnancy, but most procedures happen before about 12 weeks.

When the United States Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, Pennsylvania wasn’t impacted because the state didn’t have trigger laws that would cause abortion restrictions to take immediate effect. However, abortion rights aren’t codified into state law, the next governor could make significant changes in legislation. 

“If there’s enough support for an abortion restriction, which there probably is, then legislators could propose a bill, and if it passed the Pennsylvania legislature that could go to the governor’s desk as soon as there’s support from the legislature to pass the restriction,” Rebouché said.

The Pennsylvania legislature requires a majority vote in favor of legislation before it’s approved or vetoed by the governor. Republicans currently occupy 28 of 50 Senate seats and 113 of the 203 House seats, controlling Pennsylvania’s General Assembly, and have attempted to restrict abortion access at various times. Current Gov. Tom Wolf has vetoed every attempt to do so, Billy Penn reported.

More than 32,000 people in Pennsylvania received abortions in 2020, and approximately 41 percent were performed in Philadelphia County, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

Ninety percent of Temple students support abortion in all circumstances, according to a September poll by The Temple News. 

Seven percent of students are semi-supportive of abortion in certain circumstances and three percent don’t support abortion in any circumstance. 

Cameron Wehr, a sophomore marketing major, is disappointed that abortion rights could potentially be taken away if Mastriano is elected.

“People shouldn’t have to go to other states to get abortions,” Wehr said. “Women should feel protected.”

Here’s how Shapiro and Mastriano would handle abortions in Pennsylvania:

Josh Shapiro (D)

If elected governor, Shapiro, a long-time abortion rights advocate, would continue Wolf’s pattern of vetoing bills that threaten abortion rights in Pennsylvania, he said.

In 2005, Shapiro was elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in the 153rd District and campaigned for abortion rights, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. In 2017, he became Pennsylvania’s attorney general and received an endorsement from Planned Parenthood.

During his time as a representative, he cosponsored House Bill 288, an unsuccessful bill that would ensure emergency contraceptives to rape victims in hospitals and voted against two anti-abortion rights bills. As attorney general, he sued the Trump administration for restricting Title X family planning. 

Doug Mastriano (R)

Mastriano ran for State Senate in Pennsylvania’s 33rd District in 2018 with an anti-abortion platform after three decades serving in the U.S. Army. If elected governor, he plans to sign anti-abortion legislation into Pennsylvania law and end state funding for Planned Parenthood.

He introduced the Heartbeat Bill when elected in 2019, a bill that would ban abortion after a fetal heartbeat could be detected, usually around six weeks of pregnancy. He has voted in favor of two bills that would impose abortion restrictions, House Bill 321 and Senate Bill 857, that passed through the General Assembly and were vetoed by Gov. Wolf.

In June, Mastriano considered abortion rights issues in the gubernatorial race a “distraction” from issues regarding the economy, he said. However, he has since referred to his pro-life position as the most important issue in the election.
“There is no greater issue in our generation than a right to life,” Mastriano said in a campaign video.

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