Reviews | How the GOP threat in 2022 got much uglier after Roe
But Mastriano poses a concrete threat in another way, now that the Supreme Court has struck the constitutional right to abortion. Mastriano is only four points away from banning abortion entirely in Pennsylvania and criminalizing it there, as he did promised TO DO.
Mastriano is just the most glaring example of a central positiondeer threat to abortion rights: the decision to severely restrict abortion or ban it entirely in blue-leaning swing states, not just red states.
Right now, Republicans control the state legislatures of Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan, and a Republican could win the gubernatorial race in any of them. GOP candidates in all three countries have pledged to ban or severely restrict abortion.
All of this has other hidden implications as well: for example, if abortion is banned in a state like Pennsylvania, it would remove an important option in seeking reproductive care for people in neighboring states that have also banned it. .
You may have noticed that Republicans delivered the court’s decision in a non-threatening tone, saying it merely returns the matter to “democratic control” in the states. It’s terribly complicated by aggressive GOP gerrymanders of many state legislaturesincluding in states often won by Democrats.
But it also seems designed to lull Democratic voters into complacency. Voter turnout tends to drop mid-term, especially for the party in the White House. How many voters in places like Pennsylvania will draw a direct connection between this fall’s gubernatorial elections and the fate of abortion rights?
“It’s a real and present danger here in Pennsylvania if Mastriano wins,” Josh Shapiro, the state’s attorney general and Democratic gubernatorial candidate, told me.
Additionally, the Republican-controlled legislature has sought to pass new restrictions on abortion. The Democratic governor has vetoed them. Just like Shapiro. Mastriano wouldn’t, and with him as governor, he and GOP lawmakers would likely push for as extreme a ban as possible.
“Will the next governor sign this bill or veto it?” Shapiro asked.
As the Liberal Supreme Court justices pointed out in CONTESTATION last week, states can now go to new extremes. They could try to ban out-of-state travel for an abortion, ban residents from receiving abortion drugs from other states, or criminalize providing funding and information to enable these things. Given Mastriano’s messianism, it is likely that he would draw such new frontiers.
In Wisconsin and Michigan, efforts by GOP legislatures to further restrict abortion were vetoed by Democratic governors. An 1849 Wisconsin abortion ban can now be in effectbut the Democratic governor and attorney general said they would not enforce it.
Meanwhile, a 1931 abortion ban in Michigan suddenly became relevant, but it was temporarily blocked in state court. As Reporting by Jonathan Cohnit created widespread confusion in the state while highlighting the precariousness of abortion rights there.
Here’s the catch: If the Republicans win the gubernatorial races in these two states, there will be no doubt about it. GOP candidates in these states have greeted the court decision. No doubt they would sign much more dramatic restrictions or perhaps outright bans.
But even beyond the possibility of abortion bans in these states, we could see other ripple effects. First, such bans would close another option for women in other neighboring states where abortion is already banned.
“As these states fall, domino after domino, the distance people have to travel will increase,” Leah Litman, a professor at the University of Michigan Law School, told me.
Second, note that anti-choice activists and Republicans in some states are currently discussing laws that would allow people in their state to sue people. in other states where abortion is legal for helping residents of the first state obtain abortions.
This is similar to what Texas’ extreme anti-abortion law does. This law has raised concerns that more states are adopting such “vigilance” mechanisms.
This again illustrates the high stakes of these gubernatorial contests. Democratic governors and attorneys general who are fully committed to abortion rights could devote resources to challenging such lawsuits and defending their states against them.
“It will help to have an elected Democratic leader positioned to stand up for its people,” Litman told me.
Behind all this looms a vexing paradox. When Republicans say the issue has now been pushed back to the Democratic process, you would think that would spur voters to be extra vigilant of state-level contests that will decide which women’s health plans they will live under. But it could just as well breed complacency.
In Virginia, Democrats aired millions in ads pointing out that Glenn Youngkin, now GOP governor, was caught on video suggesting extreme anti-abortion views. It didn’t matter, and Youngkin has now called for a 15-week abortion ban. Will voters feel more urgency, now that the court has assured that abortion rights are directly on the ballot?