Pennsylvania Governor Vetoes Unconstitutional Abortion Ban

(MEDIA ADVISORY) Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf has vetoed an unconstitutional abortion restriction passed this month by the state House. The vetoed measure would have banned a safe, medically proven method of second trimester abortion while also prohibiting abortion at 20 weeks after a woman’s last menstrual period. 

Both bans are clearly unconstitutional and would endanger the health of Pennsylvania women by preventing physicians in Pennsylvania from exercising their best medical judgment in caring for their patients. This measure has faced strong opposition in the state, including from the Pennsylvania Medical Society and the Pennsylvania Section of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. 

“Governor Wolf did the right thing for Pennsylvania women today by vetoing this cruel and unnecessary legislation,” said Shivana Jorawar, State Legislative Counsel at the Center for Reproductive Rights. “These dangerous bans flout the Constitution and are in clear conflict with the recommendations of medical experts. Their only purpose is to appease anti-abortion extremists out to undermine the fundamental right to abortion one restriction at a time.”  

The type of bans vetoed yesterday have failed to pass constitutional muster when challenged in court. Last month a Texas federal judge struck down a similar measure banning the safest and most common method of ending a pregnancy after approximately 15 weeks in Texas. Every court that has looked at a similar ban has blocked it, including in Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas and Oklahoma.  

Major mainstream medical associations like the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists oppose this type of ban, noting “these restrictions represent legislative interference at its worst: doctors will be forced, by ill-advised, unscientifically motivated policy, to provide lesser care to patients. This is unacceptable.”  

Courts have likewise consistently struck down measures that ban abortion before viability. The Supreme Court last year refused to review North Dakota’s ban on abortion as early as 6 weeks of pregnancy, and Arkansas’ ban on abortion at 12 weeks of pregnancy had been struck down by lower courts. In 2014, the nation’s highest court refused to review Arizona’s ban on abortion at 20 weeks of pregnancy after it had been declared unconstitutional, and every federal court that has reached a decision on a pre-viability ban has blocked the rule from taking effect.