Shapiro, only Dem running for Pa. governor, vows to veto abortion restrictions

Josh Shapiro speaks at an abortion rights rally

Democratic candidate for Pennsylvania governor Josh Shapiro speaks at an abortion rights rally in Philadelphia. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Attorney General Josh Shapiro, the only Democrat running for governor of Pennsylvania, vowed to veto any bills banning abortion at a rally in Philadelphia Friday — days after news of a leaked draft opinion this week seemed to spell the downfall of Roe v. Wade.

“They’re coming for all your rights, and I’ll be there to defend you every single step of the way,” Shapiro said.

Abortion would remain legal in Pennsylvania if the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the landmark ruling. Pa. would likely see a massive influx of people from nearby states seeking abortions.

But a Democratic governor is expected to be key to maintaining abortion protections in Pennsylvania, as current Governor Tom Wolf has vetoed several bills that would further restrict abortion access passed by the Republican-controlled General Assembly. Wolf has promised to continue vetoing abortion restrictions during his remaining few months left in office. Every Republican running for governor supports banning or limiting abortions.

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People cheer Democratic gubernatorial candidate Josh Shapiro during an abortion rights rally at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

“The way we win this fight is by electing a governor, a governor who will act as a firewall against the extreme General Assembly,” said Austin Davis, the Democratic candidate for Lt. Governor Shapiro has endorsed. “That governor is my friend Josh Shapiro.”

Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Executive Director Signe Espinoza called Shapiro and Davis a “pink ticket.”

“We need leaders who are ready to not only use their veto pen and their votes, but also work to expand access,” she said.

Shapiro and several other speakers, including PA Dem organizers and Democratic elected officials, said the leaked draft opinion indicates same-sex marriage and interracial marriage could also be under attack. Some legal experts say Justice Samuel Alito’s assertion in the leaked draft that the decision would only concern abortion may not be enough to keep it from being used to challenge other rights.

Ella Schreiber, 14, of Paoli, carries a sign during an abortion rights rally at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

“As a trans woman, I have spent my entire life merely trying to exist,” said Deja Alvarez, Democratic candidate for State Representative. “I don’t want to see everyone else dragged back to those times. It’s terrifying.”

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Alexandra Hunt, a Democrat challenging incumbent U.S. Rep. Dwight Evans for a seat in Congress, said she was not invited to speak at the rally — but carried a sign reading, “My run is possible because of the abortion I had when I was 18.” She came to Friday’s rally to make a point that people with “lived experience” of abortion should be speaking about it.

“I was on birth control and yet still managed to get pregnant. … I was 18, in college, and was not ready to bring a child into this world,” she said. “So I decided to terminate it.”

Elizabeth Zangrilli, 8, of Philadelphia stands on a chair to make a statement during an abortion rights rally at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Joann Neufeld, a Democratic committeeperson in Philly, came to the rally to support Shapiro.

“I get so angry just thinking about it,” she said. “That somebody in Washington thinks they could deny us these freedoms, is just an outrage.”

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