Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

Here’s where candidates for Pa. Senate and governor stand on Texas’ abortion ban

The Inquirer reached out to prospective and declared candidates running for governor and Senate and asked if they would support a Texas-style ban on abortion in Pennsylvania.

People march around the Pennsylvania State Capitol Building for the Bans Off Our Bodies rally in Harrisburg last week.
People march around the Pennsylvania State Capitol Building for the Bans Off Our Bodies rally in Harrisburg last week.Read moreThomas Hengge / Staff Photographer

The Texas law that took effect last month bans abortions after six weeks and allows anyone to sue clinics, physicians, or anyone who helps someone get an illegal abortion. So far, legislators in 11 states have introduced similar laws.

If the U.S. Supreme Court were to overturn Roe v. Wade in an upcoming case, states would be left to determine whether to change their own laws. That would be up to the legislature and whoever is governor at the time. Pennsylvania state law currently allows abortions before fetal viability, generally considered about 24 weeks.

Arguments on a challenge to Mississippi’s 15-week ban come before the Supreme Court on Dec. 1, with a ruling expected next spring, giving the issue even more currency for the 2022 elections.

» READ MORE: Abortion is a key issue for Pa. Democrats, and it could supercharge the 2022 midterms

The Inquirer reached out to prospective and declared candidates running for governor and U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania and asked if they would support a Texas-style ban in Pennsylvania. Here are responses from them or their campaigns:


Attorney General Josh Shapiro, Democrat

“Texas’ abortion ban is dangerous, extreme, and cruel — and Republicans are already trying to pass copycat laws across the country, including here in Pennsylvania. Abortion must be safe, legal, and accessible, and I will do everything I can to defend the right to choose and make sure that a Texas-style abortion ban never becomes law in our Commonwealth.”

Former Congressman Lou Barletta, Republican

“I’m not going to speculate about what the legislature would send to my desk, but I am pro-life. I have always had a 100% pro-life rating. I will be a governor who signs pro-life legislation and there shouldn’t be any ambiguity about that.”

GOP strategist Charlie Gerow, Republican

“I would sign a fetal heartbeat law such as the one passed by the general assembly and vetoed by Tom Wolf. And I would sign and support a Down syndrome bill, similar to the one vetoed by Tom Wolf. In my judgment most Pennsylvanians want fewer abortions, not more.”

Former U.S. Attorney Bill McSwain, Republican

“Bill McSwain is pro-life and his administration will reflect that, as pro-life voices will have seats at the table in Bill’s cabinet. Bill will sign legislation that protects the unborn and values the dignity and sanctity of human life.”

Montgomery County Commissioner Joe Gale, Republican

“The heartbeat legislation in Texas is a step in the right direction towards ending the atrocity of abortion. As the next pro-life Governor of Pennsylvania, I will make it my utmost priority to protect every child from the moment of conception. Allowing the most defenseless and voiceless among us to be legally murdered in the womb is unacceptable, unethical and unforgivable.”

Erie County State Sen. Dan Laughlin, Republican

“I want to make this as crystal clear as you’ve ever had a political candidate talk to you: I want to keep Pennsylvania’s abortion law exactly the way it is right now. If there was a bill that made it less restrictive, or a bill that made it more restrictive, I would veto either one of those.”

Former Chester County Chamber CEO Guy Ciarrocchi, Republican

“There are 30,000 abortions each year. Hopefully, we can all agree on a commitment to reduce that number. I am pro-life. I would sign legislation that protects innocent life, especially once a baby reaches viability. However I would not support legislation that encourages Pennsylvanians to report one another to the authorities — just as I opposed such efforts during the lockdowns.”

Franklin County State Sen. Doug Mastriano, Republican

“My legislation will require physicians — before proceeding with an abortion — to determine whether the baby has a heartbeat. If the baby has a heartbeat, the abortion cannot be performed. No person with a beating heart, no matter how small, should be deprived of the fundamental right to life.

“Now is the time to have an open and honest discussion on this very difficult matter. Scientific and medical advances of the past 50 years have laid to waste the idea that the baby in the womb is simply a mass of tissue.”

Pittsburgh attorney Jason Richey, Republican:

“I am pro-life. As governor, I will protect innocent life and support mothers and families with compassionate, life-affirming alternatives to abortion. ... The Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs [the Mississippi case] will set the boundaries of any future Pennsylvania legislation. As governor, I will work within the limits of the Constitution to protect life.”

U.S. Senate

Former Ambassador to Denmark, Carla Sands, Republican

“As a mother and an America First conservative I am unapologetically pro-life. The radical left’s abortion on-demand, up to the point of birth agenda is immoral and out of line with the values of Pennsylvanians and most democratic nations. In the Senate, I will fight for the rights of the unborn.”

Conservative commentator, Kathy Barnette, Republican

No comment

Army veteran and author Sean Parnell, Republican

“I am pro-life, and will always vote to protect the unborn. As a US Senator, I will vote to confirm judges who share that view. I will strongly support pieces of legislation like the Born Alive Act, and believe Joe Biden’s decision to revoke the Mexico City policy undermines our moral leadership worldwide.”

Lower Merion developer, Jeff Bartos, Republican

“Jeff was proud to be rated ‘pro-life’ by both the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation and LifePac in 2018. As a senator, Jeff will always stand up for our most vulnerable and work with conservatives in Harrisburg to build a culture that respects life.”

Democratic candidates Montgomery County Commissioner Val Arkoosh, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, Congressman Conor Lamb, Wharton professor Eric Orts, and State Sen. Sharif Street all said they would oppose any Texas-style ban and vote to codify Roe v. Wade at the federal level.

Montgomery County Commissioners Chair Val Arkoosh, Democrat

“Women face so many challenges — unequal pay, childcare that is just unaffordable, discrimination in the workplace. Now they’re facing the very real threat that they will no longer be able to control what happens in their own bodies.”

Emergency-room doctor Kevin Baumlin, Democrat

”I have counseled, supported, answered difficult questions and, yes, cried with many women as they have made decisions about their lives. The decisions that women make with their physicians and loved ones should not ever be legislated. I oppose the Texas legislation and am firmly pro-choice.”

Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, Democrat

“The right to an abortion is non-negotiable and absolute. And if I ever have the opportunity to vote for a Supreme Court Justice, 100% support for Roe would be a personal litmus test for any potential Justice to earn my vote.”

North Philadelphia State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, Democrat

“As the first man elected to the board of the Philadelphia chapter of the National Organization for Women, I take reproductive justice and abortion access very seriously. I have voted against every effort that the GOP has put forth to limit easy access to abortion and I will continue to do so.”

U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb, Democrat

“Pennsylvania’s current law imposes undue burdens on women for what should entirely be a choice between a woman and her doctor. We need to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act so that no state can impose unconstitutional restrictions on women’s right to choose. ... I’m Catholic, but no religion determines the law in the United States of America, and no government should have the power to determine any woman’s most important decisions about her life.”

Wharton professor Eric Orts, Democrat

“The Texas law, and any effort to replicate it in Pennsylvania, is a flagrant violation of what was and should remain settled legal precedent: that a woman’s right to choose is non-negotiable. Pennsylvanians deserve a world where they have full control over their reproductive choices — not a dystopian nightmare where those decisions are surrendered to medically incompetent state legislatures and courts.”

Philadelphia State Sen. Sharif Street

“We need to codify the provisions of Roe v. Wade. It should be a federal statute because I don’t think we can rely on the U.S. Supreme Court to protect basic healthcare decisions. I would vote to suspend the filibuster to make sure Democrats can do it.”