Philadelphia officials react to Roe v. Wade decision

Supreme Court Abortion
Abortion-rights protesters regroup and protest following Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, federally protected right to abortion, outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Friday, June 24, 2022.
AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe

City and state officials react to Friday’s decision by the Supreme Court to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling.

Mayor Jim Kenney:

“I am deeply disappointed that the Supreme Court, an institution we depend upon to protect our residents and most fundamental values, has arrived at a decision that will reverse Roe v. Wade and make it even more difficult for people to access an abortion if they make the entirely personal and private decision to seek one. Today is a staggering setback and this decision sadly paves the way for even more attacks on our constitutional rights.

“Abortion is healthcare. It is wrong to force someone to remain pregnant when it’s not their choice, when it’s not the right time, or when it’s dangerous to their health or safety — a sad and dire reality for many. It is negligent to ‘ban abortion’ when abortion procedures will still happen, but are more likely to be unsafe under restrictive policies, needlessly and knowingly putting people’s lives at risk. And it is shameful to promote these policies in open pursuit of political power, under a ‘pro-life’ banner and in the name of innocents, while failing to use that power to protect our country’s children from the lethal dangers of poverty and violence.

“If you are sad, scared, or angry, I want you to know that you are not alone and this fight isn’t over. I am thankful that abortion is still legal in Pennsylvania, and right here in Philadelphia. Most Americans and most Pennsylvanians support legal access to abortion, and I stand with them. We are determined to do everything in our power to protect this right and support anyone affected by the Supreme Court’s decision.”

PA Attorney General Josh Shapiro:

“The Dobbs decision will go down as a shameful moment for our country and for the Court. Today, five Supreme Court Justices upended fifty years of settled law and subjected the health and private lives of millions of American women to the whims of politicians.

As a result of today’s decision, every American’s personal freedoms now depend on the state in which they live. Here in Pennsylvania, decisions about your bodies will now be left to elected officials in Harrisburg– giving those politicians more power than women in our Commonwealth.

Let me be clear: For now, abortion remains legal in Pennsylvania. Our laws have not changed with this ruling and abortion is permitted in Pennsylvania through the 23rd week of pregnancy, and afterwards when necessary to protect the life or health of the mother. I plan to continue to defend doctors’ ability to practice medicine and women’s right to privacy against any efforts to enforce a defunct rule mandating women notify their husbands of their personal decisions.

Unfortunately, I can’t give that same assurance to the women in places like Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky, and other states across our nation. Wheels are already in motion to ban abortion in more than half of our country. I can promise you that if patients travel from those states into Pennsylvania – I will fight to protect them and their doctors from extreme politicians attempting to illegally interfere.

While this decision has no immediate impact here in Pennsylvania, it opens the door for our legislature to ban or criminalize abortion by simply passing a law—because there are no longer federal protections. I will fight any attempt to erode women’s rights in our Commonwealth.

To the doctors and patients in Pennsylvania who are worried about how this decision will impact them, know that the full force of my office is dedicated to protecting legal access to abortion in our Commonwealth.

I will stand firm in protecting a woman’s right to choose — and anyone who tries to threaten or undermine the fundamental freedoms of Pennsylvania women will have to go through the Office of Attorney General first.”

Health Commissioner Dr. Cheryl Bettigole:

“I am shocked and appalled at this decision, and about the Court’s disregard for the consequences of welcoming politics into the exam room. Women and people who can get pregnant have a right to autonomy over what happens to their bodies. Now many are facing a future in which their right to control their own healthcare decisions is at risk of being stripped away.

While we call on policy makers to protect those rights and to ensure that all women have access to the healthcare services they need, including those to prevent and treat unplanned pregnancies, it is critical that everyone understand that abortion is still safe and legal in Philadelphia.”

Archbishop Nelson J. Pérez

“I am grateful to the Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States for their willingness to hear Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, and for their opinion, which affirms the deep value inherent to every human life.­

As Catholics, we believe that life is God’s most precious gift and that we share a responsibility to uphold its beauty and sanctity from conception to natural death. In addition to being strong advocates for the unborn, this responsibility extends to caring for the hungry, the poor, the sick, the immigrant, the elderly, the oppressed, and any of our brothers and sisters who are marginalized. In short, to be truly pro-life means to recognize the presence of God in everyone and to care for them accordingly.

The Church’s strong commitment to protecting and preserving human life is a holistic one. The Archdiocese of Philadelphia is one of the largest private providers of social services in the region. Our ministries and programs provide a continuum of care to those in need regardless of their faith tradition.

Our charitable programs provide formula, diapers, education, and comprehensive support services to pregnant women, fathers, new parents, and single parents. We have distributed more than a million meals in the greater Philadelphia region to those struggling with food insecurity. We shelter the homeless, support veterans, those in recovery, and help students with special needs receive the Catholic education they deserve. We have helped desperate families get back on their feet and bring joy to the lives of the aged and lonely.

I have often said that we are a people of hope. It is my personal hope that we can all live and work peacefully, side-by-side, to create a true culture of life in our Nation.”

Philadelphia Federation of Teachers President Jerry Jordan:

“Today’s ruling, overturning a woman’s right to the healthcare she needs, is disgraceful. Banning abortions will not stop abortions. But it will make abortion unsafe and illegal. It means that women experiencing poverty, especially Black and brown women, will be especially vulnerable amidst an already rigged system.

“Before our eyes, we are watching the horror of a group of right-wing extremists hurtling our nation rapidly towards authoritarianism. Let’s be very clear: when Republicans talk about freedom, when they talk about the sanctity of life, when they talk about individual rights, they mean for white, cisgender men.

“This has been the plan of deep-pocketed, craven extremists for years, and today we saw six justices carry it out. Together, we are left to pick up the pieces and once again fight for the rights of our families, our friends, our neighbors, and our communities. That means protest, it means voter registration, it means working tirelessly to elect leaders who will will support a woman’s right to choose.

“Today, and every day, I reiterate this union’s deep and unwavering commitment to standing up for every person’s right to live and thrive in an equitable and just society.”

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