Gov. Tom Wolf filed a lawsuit Thursday against the General Assembly, asking Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court to block a package of constitutional amendments that includes one stating there is no constitutional right to an abortion in Pennsylvania.
The lawsuit contends that the abortion amendment would violate privacy rights protected under Pennsylvania’s constitution; and that the amendments were impermissibly voted on en masse as a single package, rather than separately.
“The Republican-led General Assembly continues to take extraordinary steps to dismantle access to abortion and implement a radical agenda,” Gov. Wolf said in a statement.
“Frustrated that their legislation may face my veto pen again, they instead loaded multiple unrelated constitutional amendments into a joint resolution and rammed the bill through during the budget process.”
Republicans took action “without public debate and under the cover of night,” the Democratic governor said.
A House Republican spokesperson said the suit is an attempt to “subvert the power of the people’s voice in the General Assembly.”
The amendments have passed both houses once and could be voted on again after the next legislature takes office in January. If passed, they would go on the spring 2023 primary ballot.
Unlike ordinary laws, constitutional amendments do not need a governor’s approval, and can be put to voters in primary elections, when turnout is light. Republicans used the amendment process last year to strip Wolf of much of his authority to unilaterally declare state emergencies.
The landscape of abortion law has shifted dramatically in the weeks since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade just over a month ago, with numerous states enacting draconian limits on the procedure.
For the moment, abortion rights are secure in Pennsylvania, but Republicans have offered a broad range of proposals to change that. The Republican candidate for governor, Doug Mastriano, supports an abortion ban after six weeks with no exceptions.