The Pitt News

Editorial: On abortion, sanctuary cities, Wolf should stay strong

Gov.+Tom+Wolf+speaks+during+the+last+day+of+the+Democratic+National+Convention.+Clem+Murray%2FPhiladelphia+Inquirer%2FTNS
Gov. Tom Wolf speaks during the last day of the Democratic National Convention. Clem Murray/Philadelphia Inquirer/TNS

Gov. Tom Wolf speaks during the last day of the Democratic National Convention. Clem Murray/Philadelphia Inquirer/TNS

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Gov. Tom Wolf speaks during the last day of the Democratic National Convention. Clem Murray/Philadelphia Inquirer/TNS

By The Pitt News Editorial Board

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While political clashes in Washington, D.C., continue to grow more frequent and more intense, Republicans in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, are feeling little pushback against their agenda — and they’re making the most of it.

The GOP majority in the state senate voted to consider a singularly restrictive abortion bill Monday. The bill would reduce the legal limit for performing abortions in the state from 24 to 20 weeks and effectively ban one of the most common methods for the procedure — the dilation-and-evacuation method. This method is most typically and safely used during the second trimester of a pregnancy and is often performed in the case of a miscarriage.

The next day, another bill reached the House floor that might have faced more opposition in a left-leaning legislature — a proposal to remove up to $1.2 billion from up to 32 cities and municipalities across the state. The criteria for suspending state support would correspond to so-called “sanctuary cities,” municipalities where local authorities have pledged not to co-operate with state and federal immigration officials. Under the parameters set by the proposal, Pittsburgh would be considered one of them.

Both of these bills threaten considerable damage to the state and its residents. The Pennsylvania Medical Society sent a pointed letter to the measure’s supporters in the state legislature, asking that legislators reconsider the bill’s specific targeting of dilation-and-evacuation abortions. The legislature has never before banned a specific kind of medical procedure, and this procedure specifically is one of the safest, according to the society’s letter.

In their haste to pass the restrictions, Republicans have yet to receive any input from the Pennsylvania medical community — something that should concern both pro-choice and pro-life advocates.

The bill to defund sanctuary cities and counties in the state received similarly short treatment before legislators when it was introduced in the House Tuesday. The bill’s chief sponsor, Allegheny County Republican Guy Reschenthaler, appeared anxious to shut down debate and ram the proposal through the lower house.

Reschenthaler shot down questions about his bill and the potential effects of budget cuts for residents of the affected communities, saying that they weren’t relevant. But the concerns of Pennsylvania residents, both undocumented and native-born, remain unanswered.

Gov. Tom Wolf released a statement Tuesday promising to veto the proposed abortion legislation. His spokesman, J.J. Abbott, called the sanctuary city bill concerning. And for now, it appears both bills’ backers have insufficient support to override a veto from the governor.

But the reprieve is temporary — while we appreciate the governor’s use of his veto powers in this instance, it’s likely that the balance of power in Harrisburg will stay mostly the same for at least the next year.

The governor must remain strong on these important issues. He needs not only to veto these bills, but the bills that are bound to follow in their path in the near future — if not, the lives of the most vulnerable among us might be at stake.

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Editorial: On abortion, sanctuary cities, Wolf should stay strong