Pa. Gov. Tom Wolf vows to protect abortion rights, but can only do so for the next eight months
“It’s important for Pennsylvanians to know that the leak of this draft does not change anything today," the governor said.
Gov. Tom Wolf on Wednesday added his voice to the chorus of Democratic lawmakers who oppose the potential reversal of Roe v. Wade and assured Pennsylvanians that their abortion rights remain intact — at least for the last eight months of his term.
“Today, along with everybody standing behind me, I am very angry,” the governor said, speaking in front of Independence Hall under a dreary sky. “Because today the right to bodily autonomy, a right that has been enshrined in law for more than a generation, is under attack. I am angry because the privacy in this nation is under attack. I am angry because the rights of women in this nation are under attack.”
Wolf’s comments in Philadelphia came two days after Politico reported a leaked U.S. Supreme Court draft opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade, the historic case that has protected abortion rights nationwide since 1973.
The governor was joined by elected officials, Planned Parenthood employees and volunteers, and other abortion rights supporters. Mayor Jim Kenney was also in attendance, but did not address the small group of reporters and passersby.
If Roe v. Wade is overturned, Pennsylvanians could be impacted when Wolf’s term ends early next year. Every Republican candidate for governor supports banning or limiting abortions, and the state legislature is Republican-controlled. Wolf said he will continue to veto any antiabortion bills that come to his desk.
“It’s important for Pennsylvanians to know that the leak of this draft does not change anything today,” the governor said. “An official ruling has not yet been made and even if it is made, it’s up to the states to change abortion laws.”
Pennsylvania is not one of the 13 states with so-called trigger laws, which would immediately go into effect and outlaw abortion.
“Abortion access in Pennsylvania will remain legal and safe as long as I am governor,” Wolf said.
The news of the leaked draft opinion — the authenticity of which was later confirmed by Chief Justice John Roberts — quickly sent shockwaves across the country and the region, moving hundreds of abortion rights supporters to take to the streets of Philadelphia on Tuesday night.
Wolf on Wednesday reiterated the arguments of many abortion rights supporters, citing studies that show abortion bans lead to an increase in pregnancy-related deaths and being denied an abortion leaves lasting impacts on parent and child.
Many antiabortion advocates, meanwhile, have so far been cautious to speak on the issue, with the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and other national groups, such as March for Life, saying any comment would at this point be premature. Few antiabortion counterprotesters showed up at the rally in Philadelphia on Tuesday.
The Pro-Life Union of Philadelphia did weigh in, with President Tom Stevens saying in a statement: “We hope and pray that the final decision looks like the draft. It will be a momentous victory for our nation, for women and families, and for the unborn.”
In Democratic-controlled New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy earlier this year codified abortion rights into state law, meaning it would be unaffected after Murphy’s term ends in 2026.