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PA Politicians Push ‘Abortion On Demand’ Legislation After SCOTUS Leak

In the wake of a leaked U.S. Supreme Court opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is expected to bring the Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA) back to the Senate floor. However, he is almost certain to lack the 60 votes needed for cloture — allowing the bill to come to the Senate floor for a vote — or even 50 votes to pass it. On Feb. 28,  Sen. Manchin (D-W. Va.) voted with the Republicans to block it.

In February, Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.), who is sometimes described as prof-life, voted to advance the bill with the rest of his Democratic colleagues. His office did not respond to a request to comment on whether he will vote that way again next week.

Casey’s stance on abortion issues has been fluid. Until recently, he said he supported a ban on abortions after 20 weeks — a position in line with a majority of Americans according to Gallup polling. However, he also refused to block changes to Obamacare in 2010 to provide taxpayer-funded elective abortions.

“Casey’s voting record in Congress aligns significantly with abortion-rights groups such as Planned Parenthood and NARAL. He has voted along with Planned Parenthood 75 percent of the time since 2011,” Politico reported in 2018. “And he voted with NARAL Pro-Choice America 100 percent of the time in 2016 and 2017.”

Supporting the WHPA, however, is a new level of pro-abortion politics.

According to an analysis by John McCormack who covers abortion legislation for the conservative National Review magazine, the WHPA creates a federal right to abortion through nine months of pregnancy in all 50 states; overrides nearly all state abortion laws, including parental-consent laws like Pennsylvania’s; weakens “conscience exemptions” to keep healthcare workers from being forced to participate in abortion procedures that violate their religious beliefs; and creates a right for non-doctors to perform abortions.

“WHPA will essentially legalize abortion throughout all nine months of pregnancy and undo every state law that has protected children in the womb,” according to the group Democrats for Life America.

While most Americans say they oppose overturning Roe v. Wade, polls consistently show fewer than 20 percent of Americans support unlimited abortion up to the day of birth. However, that is exactly the position every Democrat in the Delaware Valley’s congressional delegation took when they voted to pass the WHPA last fall.

Congresswoman Madeleine Dean (D-Montgomery) tweeted after voting for the bill, “The Women’s Health Protection Act will: Codify Roe v. Wade. Create federal protection against state laws that restrict women’s health. Prohibit unwarranted restrictions that single out abortion services or providers. Beyond proud to serve in this House that passed #WHPA.”

“Like many of you, I was outraged by the leaked draft opinion of the Supreme Court regarding Roe v. Wade – and what this extreme Supreme Court may do to our country,” Dean said in an email.  “Predicting this, in September, the House passed the Women’s Health Protection Act to codify Roe v. Wade. Since then, it’s been stalled in the Senate because of the filibuster.

Rep. Madeleine Dean with abortion protesters at Independence Hall.

“It’s time the Senate carve out a filibuster exception to pass WHPA, as they’ve recently done with our debt ceiling,” she said. “Women must remain free to fulfill their right to privacy, legal and safe abortion, contraceptives, and full healthcare treatment.”

Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Delaware County/Philadelphia) tweeted after the SCOTUS  leak earlier this week, “Women were called hysterical for sounding the alarm about abortion rights. We were told Roe and Casey were settled law. This leaked opinion shows we were right to be terrified. The Senate must move NOW to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act.”

And Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D-Berks/Chester) said this on her campaign website, “A woman’s health care decisions should be made between her, her doctor, and her faith – not politicians. I am very concerned by state-level laws that inject politics into that decision, as well as the dangerous Supreme Court challenges to Roe v. Wade. That’s why I am taking action by supporting the Women’s Health Protection Act, standing against efforts to defund Planned Parenthood, and working to improve maternal health care access through the Maternal Health Quality Improvement Act.”

Abortion is also on the table in the state legislature. State Senate Republicans are putting forward a bill that would add a constitutional amendment to maintain the status quo of no right to or funding for an abortion.

“Federal courts have long held that the federal constitution does not require taxpayer funding of abortion. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court held in 1985 that the state constitution also does not require such taxpayer funding,” said state Sen. Judy Ward (R-Blair/Cumberland/Franklin/Fulton/Hunterdon).

“If approved, Senate Bill  956 will prevent taxpayer dollars from funding elective terminations and will preserve the authority of elected officials – not the judicial branch – to enact future abortion laws.

“To no one’s surprise, this issue has elicited consternation from abortion rights activists who wield passionate and misleading rhetoric to convince the masses that my bill will lead to widespread bans. Nothing could be further from the truth,” Ward said.

“Currently, Medicaid covers both non-elective abortions and voluntary abortions involving cases of rape or incest but still withholds funding for elective abortions,” Ward added.  “If the state constitutional amendment is approved by the voters, this won’t change. The Abortion Control Act will remain the law, as well. The language does not ban abortions, but rather ensures that abortion policy in Pennsylvania comes from the people’s elected representatives.”

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Lamb Blasts Leaked SCOTUS Opinion, Stands By ‘Abortion Without Limits’ Stance

The leaked U.S. Supreme Court decision potentially overturning Roe v. Wade shocked the country, and those shockwaves are certainly being felt in Pennsylvania. But some voters may be shocked, or at least surprised, by what the reaction to the leaked opinion has revealed about some candidates in the state’s May 17 primaries.

At a press event Wednesday afternoon, for example, Congressman Conor Lamb reiterated his support for abortion without restriction throughout the entire pregnancy up to the moment of birth.

Lamb, a Democrat running for the U.S. Senate, is often portrayed as a moderate. In the immediate aftermath of the leak of Justice Samuel Alito’s draft opinion, Lamb said, “I think the right to choose is a right all the way through pregnancy.”

During Wednesday’s presser, Lamb stood by that statement. “What I actually said is, I believe a right is a right all throughout pregnancy,” Lamb told Delaware Valley Journal.

“And there’s a fair amount of misinformation about what that means as far as the moment of birth. In the last trimester, it is extremely rare for anyone to have an abortion. It’s about one percent of cases. And I think that those cases are well-handled by medical ethics and the way that doctors are trained to make decisions, along with their patients. This whole concept of abortions right before the moment of birth is a fiction.”

Last September, Lamb voted for the “Women’s Health Protection Act,” which would override every state law restricting abortion and mandate Lamb’s no-restrictions stance in all 50 states. Lamb was joined by all of his fellow Pennsylvania Democrats, including Delaware Valley Reps. Madeleine Dean, Chrissy Houlahan and Mary Gay Scanlon.

This position is far outside the mainstream, according to polls. Gallup polling has consistently found about 80 percent of Americans believe abortion should be illegal in the last three months of pregnancy. However, it is a position shared by Lamb’s leading opponent, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman.

Asked if there are any limits on abortion he would find appropriate,” Fetterman said, “I don’t believe so, no.” Soon after he tweeted, “Let’s be clear: The right to an abortion is sacred.”

When another reporter asked whether the leaked Supreme Court decision changes the political landscape, Lamb said, “I think obviously what has changed is, the threat is real now,” said Lamb. “People have seen it in print and obviously the print is much more shocking than I think I even expected, in that they want to do a full overturning of this decision. And so that makes people scared of what could lie in store for us in the future, with the specific right to seek an abortion and with a lot of variables and rights.

“So, I’ve noticed in the primary, it’s getting people in a very practical frame of mind about who can win the election in any circumstances. In the general election, I’d expect to see higher participation from women.”

But the general election is months away and some political insiders believe abortion will fade as an issue for many voters.

“Most voters will still be mainly focused on inflation and other pocketbook issues in the fall,” said Christopher Nicholas of Eagle Consulting Group, a veteran Republican consultant.

“The abortion issue in Pennsylvania cuts both ways as there are both pro-choice Republicans as well as pro-life Democrats,” he added.

Political strategist Albert Eisenberg said, “Democrats will see increased turnout from college-educated women particularly, and it could induce young liberals to show up, but they should be careful about overplaying their hand on abortion issues. There are a lot of pro-life, moderate, and conservative Democrats who are drifting away from the party, particularly Black and Hispanic voters, and this could easily backfire and alienate voters they absolutely cannot afford to lose. Will the GOP realize this and take advantage?”

However, Nina Ahmad, president of the Pennsylvania chapter president of the National Organization for Women, said the high court’s decision on Roe might give people “urgency” to vote for Lamb. Her group endorsed Lamb because of his voting record and because they think he can win in November.

“This one (Lamb) is the only one who has a record and has delivered. (Lt. Gov. John) Fetterman hasn’t done anything for women in his time in office,” said Ahmad.

“As you know things are happening in our nation that are putting women’s rights in peril,” said Ahmad. “You saw the leaked document that came out about the Supreme Court decision and that has galvanized people all over this country, as it should.”

National Organization for Women President Christian Nunes said, “When we saw Justice (Samuel) Alito’s leaked draft of this decision and how detrimental this would be to women…not just women, but to everyone. A lot of times when we think about reproductive justice and access to care and abortion, we think it only applies to women but it doesn’t. It affects all of us.”

“When we read the language in the draft, I don’t know about you all but I heard Jim Crow everywhere, right?

“…women were never guaranteed these (rights) beforehand, so if they weren’t guaranteed these beforehand, so if they weren’t guaranteed in the original writing of the Constitution, they’re not entitled to the right to reproductive freedom or abortion access. This is problematic…We have justices stacked in our court who do not believe women deserve to be treated equal,” said Nunes.

Lamb said, “If you look at Alito’s original draft opinion that’s out there, it reflects this view, this backward-looking view that judges like him often have about what was in the Constitution when the country was founded and what life was like back then. Well, that’s the important difference between me and him, in terms of how we see the law and how we see our duty to protect and serve the public.”

“At that time our society was very different and many people standing here would not have had anything like the same rights and the ability to make a life for themselves that they have now…I am not backward-looking. I’m forward-looking.”

Even though there are only two weeks until the primary, Lamb said, “a lot of people aren’t following it that closely.” But the Roe decision might change that, he added.

And Lamb said he also believes he is more electable than Fetterman, who is the frontrunner.

“What I’m trying to do is tell people about my own record of success,” said Lamb. “I’m not trying to tell people the traits I have are somehow superior to everyone else’s. I’m just telling you, I have in fact won in Republican districts three times in a row and that is something unique among the candidates. For both of the other two (candidates) they have only been in competitive primaries among Democrats. And the day after our nomination, you have to step out into a larger world and engage with voters, Independents, and even moderate Republicans to win in this state. And I know how to do exactly that.”

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Montco’s Arkoosh Drops Out of Democratic Primary for U.S. Senate

Dr. Val Arkoosh, chair of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners, is suspending her campaign for Senate, saying her top priority is seeing a Democrat win the soon-to-be-open seat.

“We cannot let anything stand in the way of a Democrat being elected to the U.S. Senate,” Arkoosh said in a video statement released Friday. “The stakes are just too high. And it’s become clear to me that the best way I can ensure that happens is to suspend my campaign today and commit to doing whatever I can to help ensure we flip this Senate seat in November.

“My name may not be on the ballot, but make no mistake, I will still be fighting every day to help win this election,” Arkoosh added.

Two-term incumbent Republican Pat Toomey is not seeking re-election in November.

Previously, Arkoosh told the Delaware Valley Journal she was running for the Senate because she considered herself a “problem solver.”

“I hope to take that same problem-solving attitude to Washington,” Arkoosh said.

Now she will be keeping her problem-solving skills in Montgomery County, where she chairs the Board of Commissioners.

Jeff Jubelirer with Bellevue Communications Group said he was surprised Arkoosh had not gained more traction, given that it is a Democratic primary and she is the only woman in the campaign’s top tier.

Financial records show Arkoosh raised just $2.6 million for her campaign by the end of 2021, while competitor Lt. Gov. John Fetterman had $12 million.

Fetterman’s campaign also released a poll showing his support at 46 percent among Democratic voters, followed by Congressman Conor Lamb at 16, state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta at 12, and Arkoosh at only 4 percent.

“I think the wild card for Montgomery County is Connor Lamb,” said Joe Foster, chair of the Montgomery County Democratic Committee. “The question is how successful has he been in establishing himself as a viable candidate among the voters here but also among the Democratic committee itself. I think Malcolm will do well among the committee and Fetterman will also do very well among the committee. We’ll have to see what Connor Lamb does.”

In her statement, Arkoosh expressed gratitude for the support she received.

“I want to thank my supporters and express my gratitude for all we accomplished. We helped make sure issues like abortion rights and climate change were part of the conversation around flipping this critical seat. We earned support in every corner of the Commonwealth, with more than 40 local endorsements behind this campaign. And importantly, we used each day of this campaign to hold Republicans, like Dr. Oz, to account – for spreading misinformation about COVID-19, undermining our democracy by denying the results of the 2020 election, and opposing policies that will help Pennsylvania families like the Child Tax Credit and bipartisan infrastructure law. That work remains so important. And it will continue today, tomorrow, and the next day.

“I will still be fighting every day to help win this election,” Arkoosh assured her fellow Democrats. “There’s too much at stake. I said from the beginning we would build a campaign about Pennsylvanians and for Pennsylvanians, and I will keep fighting for Pennsylvanians each and every day.”


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