decision 2022

Here's What Pa. Governor Candidates Would Do About State's Abortion Law

Pennsylvania's current law on abortion allows for the termination of a pregnancy up to 24 weeks. Nine Republican candidates running for governor and the one Democrat running told NBC10 about their stance

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Abortion will be one of the central issues of the 2022 governor's race in Pennsylvania, where voters will pick a successor to outgoing Gov. Tom Wolf in the November general election.

The issue was super-charged this week when a draft ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that would overturn Roe v. Wade was leaked to the news site, Politico.

If Pennsylvania voters elect a Democrat to succeed Wolf, a Democrat, proposed abortion legislation by the Republican-controlled Legislature will be vetoed. If voters elect a Republican, the opposite will be true. In interviews, at debates and in response to questions, every Republican candidate has vowed to support anti-abortion legislation.

For a fuller picture on where each of the gubernatorial candidates stand on abortion, NBC10 sent questions to them. We asked how the candidate feels about abortion, whether the candidate would support a ban, and if not, what exceptions would they support. Here are their answers.

Josh Shapiro

The Pennsylvania attorney general is running unopposed for the Democratic nomination in the May 17 primary. That means he'll face off against the Republican nominee in the November general election.

Democrats are putting a lot of hope on Shapiro because if Roe v. Wade is overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court, a Democratic governor would likely be the only obstacle to a very restrictive, or total, ban on abortion in Pennsylvania. Republicans control the state legislature, and many conservative lawmakers have already shown their eagerness to change Pennsylvania's current abortion law that allows terminating pregnancies up to 24 weeks.

“We know that the next governor will have a bill put on their desk that bans abortion in Pennsylvania," Shapiro told NBC10. "Each and every one of my opponents will sign it into law. I will veto it and protect a woman’s right to choose here in Pennsylvania."

Shapiro added that he supports Roe v. Wade.

“Without question, I would like to see Roe codified, ideally at the federal level, and certainly I’d like to do it at the state level," he said. "But with the construct of the Legislature today, run by Republicans who want to ban abortion, the most important thing I can do – God willing as Pennsylvania’s next governor – is just defend the right that exists today.”

Josh Shapiro, a former Montgomery County commissioner and current Pennsylvania attorney general, is running for governor in 2022 as a Democrat. Here's why he says he should be elected.

Lou Barletta

The former congressman from northeast Pennsylvania who previously was mayor of Hazleton supports an end to Roe v. Wade and said he will be "a pro-life governor" for Pennsylvania.

"If this turns out to be accurate, it will be a long-awaited victory for unborn children. In the time since Roe v. Wade was handed down in 1973, tens of millions of babies have been killed," Barletta says on his campaign website. "All through the decades, the pro-life movement has fought to get to this point. If this draft ruling is indicative of the final majority opinion, it will save untold millions of innocent lives in the future."

"As I have made clear, I will not prejudge or predict what kinds of legislation may come before me, but I will be a pro-life governor, and I will sign pro-life legislation."

Speaking later with NBC10, Barletta said he would support abortion in some instances. "I support restrictions for life of the mother, rape and incest," he said.

Lou Barletta, a former congressman and mayor of Hazleton in northeastern Pennsylvania, is running for governor as a Republican in 2022. He talked to NBC10 about why he should be elected.

Jake Corman

The state senator from State College, who is one of the leaders of the Pennsylvania legislature, supports legislation that would limit abortion. But he said at a recent gubernatorial debate that he would support exceptions to an abortion ban.

"I believe life starts at conception, so we should start protecting life at conception,” Corman said, according to WESA Public Radio. “But if the woman’s life is in danger, then that’s a decision she needs to make."

Corman's campaign did not respond to questions about his stance on abortion.

Jake Corman, a state senator from central Pennsylvania who went to Temple University, is running for Pennsylvania governor this year as a Republican. Here is why he says he should be elected.

Joe Gale

The Montgomery County commissioner who is running as an anti-establishment candidate does not support abortion in any cases.

"I am 100% Pro-Life without exceptions. Human life begins at conception and the innocent, unborn should be cherished and protected," Gale said in an email to NBC10.

Joe Gale, a Montgomery County commissioner in his second term, is running for governor in 2022 as a Republican. Here’s why he says he should be elected.

Charlie Gerow

The conservative who worked in President Ronald Reagan's administration and owns a political consulting firm in Harrisburg said he supports an abortion ban, with some exceptions, and would work to make alternatives to terminating a pregnancy more accessible to women and families.

"Charlie has always been a staunch supporter of the right to life. He believes that life begins at conception and would sign a Heartbeat Bill and a Down Syndrome Bill," his campaign website says on a page called "Sanctity of Life." "He supports providing women facing problem pregnancies with positive alternatives to enable them to choose life. As an adopted child, Charlie has consistently advocated for making adoption more accessible."

Gerow's campaign did not respond to a request for more information about the heartbeat bill and the down syndrome bill he references on his campaign site.

Melissa Hart

The former congresswoman from western Pennsylvania she is "unequivocally pro-life, and that is issue is one that long ago helped spark my interest in public life."

She touted her time in the Pennsylvania Legislature and in Congress for "sponsoring and advancing pro-life legislation."

"Every other Republican candidate for Governor will tell you just about the same thing," Hart said in a statement May 3. "Unlike any of them, I have a track record of sponsoring and advancing pro-life legislation that was actually signed into law in both Harrisburg and Washington, and a long history of supporting programs and organizations that do what we really must do, by supporting mothers and their children -- because the real goal cannot be merely to make abortion illegal, but to make it unthinkable."

Hart's campaign did not respond to a request for more information about legislation related to abortion bans and support for families and women that she sponsored.

Doug Mastriano

The state senator from rural central Pennsylvania has pushed for a ban on abortions beyond six weeks of pregnancy while in office. His campaign did not respond to a request for details about exactly what he supports.

Bill McSwain

The former U.S. Attorney for Eastern Pennsylvania who lives in Chester County said he will be "a pro-life governor," but he says he would support exception to an abortion ban.

"I’ve been very clear that I’m pro-life. I’ll be a pro-life governor," McSwain said in an interview with NBC10. "I will sign legislation to protect the most vulnerable among us: the unborn. I would support a fetal heartbeat bill if Legislature brings that bill to my desk. ... I would make exceptions for rape, incest and to protect the life of the mother."

Bill McSwain, a former U.S. Attorney for Eastern Pennsylvania from Chester County, is running for Pennsylvania governor this year as a Republican. Here is why he says he should be elected.

Dave White

The businessman and former Delaware County councilman hailed the draft ruling by five members of the U.S. Supreme Court that would overturn Roe v. Wade, saying the 50-year-old federal precedent protecting the right to an abortion "has stained our nation."

White said he is an ardent supporter of an abortion ban, and would support legislation that includes no exceptions for terminating a pregnancy.

"Every day I see the grace of God through the eyes of my son, Brian. Brian may have great special needs, but he has never had a bad day," White said in a statement May 3. "For 33 years, Brian’s life has been our family’s greatest blessing, and it is Brian’s love that drives me to be a better husband, a better father, and a better Governor for all Pennsylvanians."

White's son, Brian, has microcephaly and cerebral palsy, his campaign said.

“With the decision returning the issue of abortion to the elected representatives of the people, it is more important than ever to defeat the unabashedly pro-abortion Josh Shapiro. No other candidate is in as strong of a position to do so than me and my top priority as Governor of Pennsylvania will be to ensure that every life is welcomed and valued in our Commonwealth.”

Dave White, a former Delaware County Councilman and business owner from southeastern Pennsylvania, is running for governor this year as a Republican. Here is why he says he should be elected.

Nche Zama

The Lehigh Valley medical doctor, who has never held elected office, shared with NBC10 in an email that his mother died shortly after childbirth "as I stood at bedside holding her hand and pleading for her to not die."

His newborn brother died a few weeks later, Zama said.

Zama wrote that he is "pro life."

"I believe in the greatness of motherhood and that the lives of both mother and child must be protected and preserved. Therefore if a pregnant mother‘s life is in grave danger, every effort must be made to preserve and protect it because she can always embrace another chance to have a baby later," he said.

"In my opinion the most powerful woman is one who considers an abortion but subsequently decides against it. Society has an obligation to support her through the pregnancy and afterwords [sic] and to address the root causes/social determinants of that decision to consider the option of abortion in the first place," Zama said. "In the case of rape or incest, we must make behavioral health resources available immediately to her including the option of adoption down the line should she decide against keeping the newborn child."

"In Medicine there are countless genetic abnormalities of varying degrees of severity. Therefore a decision about the disposition of a fetus cannot be condensed  to a simplistic policy," he continued. "It must be individualized and must involve important stakeholders such as the family, mother, and expert healthcare providers in attendance. Therefore any precipitous 'definitive'  response, pro or con, on this issue, is really steeped only in political expediency not pragmatism or reality as I understand in the practice of medicine."

For all the candidates, issues and important dates that voters should know about in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware, go to NBC10's Decision 2022 page. You'll find tools to help you navigate the midterm elections, including when to vote and who will be on your ballots in the primaries and November general elections.

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