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Pa. Dems, abortion advocates see parallels in Kansas abortion rights vote

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Pa. Dems, abortion advocates see parallels in Kansas abortion rights vote

Aug 10, 2022 | 4:39 pm ET
By Cassie Miller
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Pa. Dems, abortion advocates see parallels in Kansas abortion rights vote
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Gov. Tom Wolf and Minority Leader Joanna McClinton joined Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Advocates to talk about abortion access in Pennsylvania on Tuesday, August 9, 2022.

Democrats and abortion rights advocates say they see parallels between the recent defeat of an abortion-banning constitutional amendment in Kansas and efforts to block abortion access in Pennsylvania.

The constitutional amendment, which was defeated by Kansas voters by a 60-40 margin last week, would have ended the right to an abortion in the state, according to the Kansas Reflector. 

Pennsylvania lawmakers and abortion rights advocates say the landslide defeat of the Kansas amendment is an example of miscalculated efforts to enact a similar constitutional amendment in Pennsylvania. 

In early July, as state lawmakers were working on passing a budget for the 2022-23 fiscal year, they also voted on Senate Bill 106, a proposed constitutional amendment package containing changes to voter identification laws, election audits and how gubernatorial running mates are selected. 

The bill, which cleared the House and Senate, also contains language allowing for lawmakers to disapprove regulations without a gubernatorial veto, and states that Pennsylvania’s constitution does not guarantee the right to an abortion. 

Pointing to Kansas voters’ rejection of the constitutional amendment, House Minority Leader Joanna McClinton, D-Philadelphia, said on a call with reporters Tuesday that abortion care is not the jurisdiction of lawmakers or the government.

“It’s not our business,” McClinton said, calling SB106, “another bad idea.”

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, who is term-limited and will leave office in January, said that he has done everything he can to protect abortion access in Pennsylvania, including issuing an executive order to protect out-of-state patients seeking abortion care and filing a lawsuit against the Republican-led General Assembly for its efforts to move SB106.

While his hands are tied, Wolf said that a Democratic majority elected to either chamber in the next legislative session could stop the constitutional amendment, which needs to be approved in two consecutive legislative sessions before reaching voters, from moving forward. 

The earliest SB106 could reach voters is the May 2023 primary.