Gilbert Carrasquillo—WireImage
Opinion

Pa. Governor Tom Wolf: Defending Families Means Defending Abortion Access

May 5, 2017

He plans to veto an anti-abortion bill in his state

Hard-working families across the country have a lot on their minds these days. They care about good schools for their kids, earning enough at work to cover ever-growing expenses and keeping their health care affordable and accessible when they need it. These are the concerns of the Pennsylvania families I talk to every day. Yet there are still some politicians who would rather spend their time waging ideological battles instead of helping families get ahead.

Recently, we’ve seen a nationwide trend of disturbing bills designed to restrict women’s ability to make decisions about their own families and access the health care services they need. These attacks are spreading despite the fact that they undermine women’s status as equal members of our society and can make it more difficult to raise a family. In Oklahoma, legislators have presented a bill that would require women to get written consent from the fetus’ father before getting an abortion. In Arkansas, the governor signed a law that allows husbands to sue their wives’ doctors in order to stop their spouses from getting a particular type of abortion. In Wyoming, lawmakers assigned two anti-abortion bills to the Senate Agriculture committee — literally treating women like pigs.

Each of these examples shows politicians wasting time debating whether women deserve the right to make decisions about their own families rather than focusing on policies that would put more money in the family bank account.

I can’t change what happens in Oklahoma, Arkansas or Wyoming. But as governor of Pennsylvania, I can do something when similar restrictions crop up in my home state. Here, it’s my job to put the needs of Pennsylvanians ahead of partisan ideology. As a father and a husband, I believe that women should have the same opportunities as men. That’s why I am ready to veto a plan moving through the state legislature that would criminalize abortion, even in cases of rape and incest, and drastically restrict women’s access to health care.

This legislation, Senate Bill 3, has been pushed through the state legislature without a single public hearing that would allow Pennsylvanians the ability to express their concerns. I’ve heard from women across Pennsylvania who shared their heartbreaking stories with me. This bill would criminalize very personal and difficult decisions that should be between a woman and their doctor. This bill is also opposed by the Pennsylvania Medical Society, but that hasn’t stopped politicians in Harrisburg from pushing it through the legislature.

The legislation is wrong and the people of Pennsylvania deserve better from their elected representatives.

I’m proud to support the women I represent and to advance reproductive freedom and equality for every member of our society. I don’t pretend to know what’s best for a woman and her health, but everyone can get behind the idea that all women should have the same opportunity as men to make their own health care decisions.

If the politicians behind this unconstitutional bill truly want to help Pennsylvania’s families, they should champion policies that are proven to lift up women and families. This means expanding access to affordable health care, protecting pregnant women from discrimination at work and giving working people access to paid family leave so they can take care of their families without risking their jobs.

Until that happens, I will keep standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the vast majority of Pennsylvanians who support a woman’s constitutional right to make her own decisions about her body. It’s not my place to judge a woman’s personal decisions or to try and make them for her — and it’s not the state legislature’s place to make those decisions for other people, either. And if they try to do so, my veto pen will be ready.

Governor Tom Wolf has served as Pennsylvania’s governor since 2015. He is running for re-election in 2018.

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