Republican state senators advances Pennsylvania constitutional amendment on abortion

HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania — Republican state senators late Thursday overruled fervent Democratic opposition to introduce a proposal to amend the Pennsylvania constitution that specifically says the document guarantees no rights related to abortion or public funding for abortion.

The chamber’s Rules of Procedure Committee has tabled the package of proposed changes that would also require voters to identify themselves at polling stations and let gubernatorial candidates choose their own running mates. A vote by the entire Senate could take place on Friday.

Democratic caucus leader Sen. Jay Costa of Allegheny County said he sees the abortion bill as “to prevent abortion in this commonwealth,” while its sponsor, Republican Sen. Judy Ward of Blair, said it would simply give the legislature the Give power to set abortion law.

SEE ALSO: Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade and changes abortion laws in the United States

The proposal was appended to a package of constitutional amendments in a bill that the state house approved in December. Other changes would allow the legislature to disapprove regulations without facing the governor’s veto and would lead the General Assembly to establish a system for the Auditor General to conduct election audits.

“Our abortion control law will remain in effect,” said Ward, an opponent of abortion rights. “And this constitutional amendment is just going to go to the people and it gives us in the legislature the ability to make these rules and laws about abortion in this commonwealth.”

Sen. Katie Muth, D-Montgomery, vowed that “women and their allies will not take this. This is a ban on our rights.”

“I don’t need a single person in this room telling me what to do with my body,” Muth said. “I don’t.”

SEE ALSO: The judgment of Roe v. Wade shows a complex relationship between court and public

The state constitution requires that proposed changes pass both chambers in a two-year legislative period and then be announced to the public before the next fall election. In the subsequent second round, these proposals must then pass both chambers in the subsequent two-year session. They would then be put before voters as separate questions to have the final say.

Changes do not require the governor’s endorsement.

In Thursday night’s debate, Costa accused Republicans of turning to the constitutional amendment process to avoid a veto from Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat.

The bill is in its first two-year session, so it must be announced three months before the Nov. 8 election if the Republican majority wants to put it before voters during the 2023-24 session that begins in January.

Copyright © 2022 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. Republican state senators advances Pennsylvania constitutional amendment on abortion

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