What happens in Pennsylvania if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns its Roe v. Wade decision from 1973, which gives women the right to an abortion?
It's more possible than ever. A draft of a majority Supreme Court decision that would overturn Roe leaked late Monday night.
And even before that, enough justices have been named to the nation's high court who appear likely to vote down the landmark decision. Those justices have signaled they may also overturn a subsequent decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey from 1992, which evolved from a Pennsylvania legal battle and upheld Roe v. Wade.
How would such a monumental ruling, which could come from the Supreme Court in the next couple months, affect abortion access in states like Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey? Here's a look.
Roe v Wade Overturned: What Might Pa. Republican Lawmakers Do?
Two female Republican lawmakers, one in the state Senate and one in the state House, late last year introduced identical bills that would restrict abortion in Pennsylvania through a constitutional amendment.
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Both argue that the right to an abortion is not guaranteed anywhere in the constitution.
"The policy of Pennsylvania is to protect the life of every unborn child from conception to birth, to the extent permitted by the Constitution of the United States. Nothing in this Constitution grants or secures any right relating to abortion or the public funding of abortion," both bills, introduced by state Sen. Judy Ward and state Rep. Donna Oberlander, read. "Nothing in this Constitution requires taxpayer funding of abortion."
A constitutional amendment is one of the ways to change state law through adding language to the state constitution, and can only be done through referendums voted on by Pennsylvania voters.
By adding that language to the Constitution, it would make it significantly more difficult for future Legislatures to pass laws granting access to abortion, particularly with an state funding or support.
How Does a Pa. Constitutional Amendment Banning Abortion Get Passed?
Both chambers of the Pennsylvania General Assembly would need to approve a resolution in support of the anti-abortion amendment. They would then need to approve the same resolution a second time. As for the current resolutions introduced by Ward and Oberlander, neither have been approved by committees. Committees must debate and approve bills before the full legislature votes on them. In the case of the Senate bill introduced by Ward, her legislation was actually tabled on April 22. That means the committee chairperson decided not to hold a vote on the bill.
But if anti-abortion legislation ever did get two approvals from the full legislature, the Pennsylvania secretary of state is then obligated to put a ballot question on the next statewide Election Day that is no less than three months after the resolution is approved.
Ward and Oberlander, the Republicans who have sponsored the current resolutions, already have language ready for a ballot question. Voters would get to vote yes or no to the following:
"Should the Pennsylvania constitution be amended to say the following?
"The policy of Pennsylvania is to protect the life of every unborn child from conception to birth, to the extent permitted by the Constitution of the United
States. Nothing in this Constitution grants or secures any right relating to abortion or the public funding of abortion. Nothing in this Constitution requires taxpayer funding of abortion."
Republican state lawmakers in Pennsylvania have recently begun using ballot questions as a way to circumvent the veto power of the Democratic governor.
Can Pa. Republicans Pass an Abortion Ban without a Constitutional Amendment?
If Roe v. Wade is overturned, a Republican governor and a Republican-majority legislature could ban abortions in Pennsylvania. The 2022 election in Pennsylvania includes the race for governor, with current Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf unable to run again because of term limits.
Democrat Josh Shapiro, the state's attorney general, is the Democratic nominee who will be on the ballot for governor in November. He faces no opponents in the May 17 primary.
Shapiro said Tuesday that he would veto any legislation that bans abortion in Pennsylvania.
Seven Republicans are vying for their party's nomination. There has been no indication from any of the candidates that they would veto legislation banning abortion. Two candidates, Charlie Gerow and Joe Gale, told NBC10 in recent interviews that they are pro-life.
What Is NJ Abortion Law? What Is Delaware Abortion Law?
Legislatures in both states have passed pre-emptive laws codifying a woman's right to abortion in case the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade.
New Jersey and Delaware, which have legislatures controlled by Democrats, are not among 23 states that experts believe could immediately have access to abortion banned if Roe v. Wade is overturned.
Pennsylvania is also not one of those states, but abortion rights groups believe the state would likely fall into that category if a Republican is elected to governor later this year.