(WJET/WFXP/YourErie.com) — On Friday, June 24, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) essentially overruled the long-standing federal protections for abortion — with the ruling, states now may choose to set their own rules for abortions, including outright bans.
The published opinion for Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization from Justice Samuel Alito noted, “The Constitution does not confer a right to abortion; Roe and Casey are overruled; and the authority to regulate abortion is returned to the people and their elected representatives.”
Several politicians and stakeholders have issued statements following the SCOTUS decision.
Governor Tom Wolf (D) made it a point to announce that abortion services are still available in Pennsylvania, then went on to lament the Supreme Court decision.
“Nonetheless, I am deeply disappointed in today’s Supreme Court opinion and the impact this decision will have nationwide. The right to bodily autonomy — and privacy as a whole — is under attack in this country. We must do more to protect the rights of women and pregnant people in every state across the country that doesn’t have a governor willing to wield their veto pen.
“As we approach a critical election cycle here in Pennsylvania, I cannot stress enough how important it is to exercise your personal right to vote. Elections matter,” the governor continued. “This decision did not happen overnight. Right-wing extremists have been strategically planning to dismantle decades-long decisions to further their agendas and divide our country with policies designed to infringe upon our freedoms. They have done so one vote at a time, one election at a time across our beloved nation. We cannot allow this to continue.”
Wolf vowed to protect abortion access in Pennsylvania and welcomed women seeking services.
“To women and pregnant people in surrounding states and across the country where this isn’t the case, you are safe here in the commonwealth,” Wolf said.
U.S. Rep Mike Kelly (R) celebrated the ruling in a brief statement.
“Today’s ruling is a major victory for the pro-life movement, but our work has only begun,” Kelly said. “All little boys and girls deserve a chance at life, and this ruling ensures they will get that chance. The right to life is not just for some of us — it is for all of us.”
“I want to speak directly to those who have had abortions and struggle with their decision: you should know that forgiveness and grace — for yourself and others — will help heal those emotional wounds,” Kelly continued. “As we move forward, I encourage everyone to remember a core tenet of this country that still holds true today: each of us has the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D) issued a statement that was critical of the published opinion.
“Today’s decision upends almost a half century of legal precedent and rips away a constitutional right that generations of women have known their entire lives,” Casey wrote. “This dangerous ruling won’t end abortions in this country, but it will put women’s lives at risk. And make no mistake — this is not the end goal, it’s just the beginning. Republicans in Congress want to pass federal legislation to completely ban abortion. Our daughters and granddaughters should not grow up with fewer rights than their mothers.”
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro (D) released a lengthy statement, also critical of the opinion.
“The Dobbs decision will go down as a shameful moment for our country and for the Court. Today, five Supreme Court Justices upended 50 years of settled law and subjected the health and private lives of millions of American women to the whims of politicians.
“As a result of today’s decision, every American’s personal freedoms now depend on the state in which they live. Here in Pennsylvania, decisions about your bodies will now be left to elected officials in Harrisburg — giving those politicians more power than women in our commonwealth.
“Let me be clear: For now, abortion remains legal in Pennsylvania. Our laws have not changed with this ruling and abortion is permitted in Pennsylvania through the 23rd week of pregnancy, and afterwards when necessary to protect the life or health of the mother. I plan to continue to defend doctors’ ability to practice medicine and women’s right to privacy against any efforts to enforce a defunct rule mandating women notify their husbands of their personal decisions.
“Unfortunately, I can’t give that same assurance to the women in places like Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky, and other states across our nation. Wheels are already in motion to ban abortion in more than half of our country. I can promise you that if patients travel from those states into Pennsylvania – I will fight to protect them and their doctors from extreme politicians attempting to illegally interfere,” Shapiro wrote.
Shapiro reiterated that abortion services remain legal in the commonwealth, but he warned that the door is now open for the state Legislature to ban or criminalize abortion. He vowed to fight that legislation, if it comes to fruition.
The Pennsylvania Family Institute — whose tagline is “Protect life. Promote family. Preserve Freedom” and whose stated goal is “for Pennsylvania to be a place where god is honored, religious freedom flourishes, families thrive, and life is cherished,” — celebrated the SCOTUS opinion.
Retired judge Cheryl Allen of the Pennsylvania Family Institute called it “a monumental victory.”
“For the past 50 years, and after over 2 million abortions here in Pennsylvania, Roe has held states back from acknowledging medical advancements that have allowed all of us to more fully observe the humanity of unborn children.”
In its written statement, the Pennsylvania Family Institute applauded the state Legislature and criticized Gov. Wolf saying, “The PA General Assembly has attempted to improve the state’s outdated law on abortion by passing several bills in recent years, including a ban on late-term abortions. Yet these bipartisan and sensible bills have been vetoed by pro-abortion Gov. Tom Wolf.”
In a tweet state Sen. Pat Toomey celebrated the decision writing, “Precedents that are wrongly decided should be overturned, just as Brown v. Board of Education was right to overturn Plessy v. Ferguson. This ruling is a win for the unborn, the Constitution, and democratic governance.”
Bishop Lawrence T. Persico of the Catholic Diocese of Erie issued a statement on the ruling.
“The Catholic Church has long emphasized its commitment to respecting life from conception through natural death. While Dobbs v. Jackson is an important ruling, we acknowledge there are many complexities involved with unexpected pregnancies and recognize this is a challenging moment for all Americans. It is our hope we can play a role in healing and unity.
“Everyone should know how to help parents in difficult circumstances. They need significant support and true accompaniment. Many parishes in the Diocese of Erie have relationships with a variety of organizations and resources for parents in need. The diocesan Office of Social Justice and Life hopes to build on the work that is already in place, tapping into a network of advocates knowledgeable about a wide array of services and support.
“The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has developed a new initiative, Walking with Moms in Need, accessible at www.walkingwithmoms.com. It is a step in the right direction.
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“We believe all life is sacred and are committed to the significant amount of work that remains to be done,” Bishop Persico wrote.