The Republican nominee for governor has previously said he supports banning abortion ‘at conception’ with no exceptions.
On Monday, more than 5,000 anti-abortion Pennsylvanians rallied in Harrisburg, the state capital, to celebrate the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and to push for further abortion restrictions. State Sen. Doug Mastriano, the Republican nominee for governor, attended the event and gave an interviewto The Daily Signal, a conservative media outlet.
Mastriano’s presence at the Pennsylvania March for Life is the latest instance of the Republican’s embrace of the furthest extreme of anti-abortion policy. While only 11% of Pennsylvania voters say they believe that abortion should be illegal in all cases, according to polling from Franklin & Marshall College, Mastriano has consistently affirmed that he supports a total ban on the procedure.
Some reporting suggested that, since winning his primary, the Republican nominee had tried to downplay his support for a ban on abortion, which he once called his number one issue during a primary debate. During that debate, Mastriano affirmed his commitment to ending abortion in Pennsylvania and said a ban on the procedure after six weeks of pregnancy would be the first step toward that goal.
Mastriano reaffirmed his position on a conference call Thursday night with anti-abortion activists sponsored by the Pro-Life Coalition of Pennsylvania, saying he “looks forward to signing” a six-week abortion ban.
The race for governor will likely determine whether, and to what extent, abortion is legal. Republicans currently control the State Senate and General Assembly. House Speaker Bryan Cutler said in May he would personally support a total ban on abortion.
“If we get the opportunity to pass such legislation, I do think it would pass and I would personally support it,” he told LancasterOnline. “What we need is a different governor.”
Mastriano, who rarely talks to members of the media, did not return a request for comment.
During an April Republican primary debate, Mastriano said being anti-abortion was his “number one issue,” said he supported a ban on abortion “at conception,” and declared “I don’t give a way for exceptions.”
Senate Bill 912, the first bill Mastriano introduced as a state legislator in 2019, would have banned abortion in Pennsylvania after six weeks — before many women realize they’re pregnant — without exceptions for rape, incest, or the patient’s life. The bill is similar to ones passed in Republican-controlled states such as Georgia and Ohio.
‘One of the darkest days in American history’
Roe v. Wade (1973), the Supreme Court case that found a constitutional right to abortion and the ensuing era of federally guaranteed abortion access, is, according to Mastriano’s public statements, one of the great catastrophes of world history, comparable to atrocities such as slavery and the Holocaust.
In a statement put out by Mastriano’s state senate office after Politico published a leaked copy of the Dobbs v. Jacksons Women’s Health Organization (2022) that overturned Roe, Mastriano called the day of the Roe decision “one of the darkest days in American history.”
“Since I was elected to the Senate, there has been no more important issue to me than the right to life,” the statement added.
In 2019, he posted a cartoon to Facebook that depicted Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin and a Nazi kneeling in front of the Grim Reaper labeled with the words Roe v. Wade. A speech bubble from the two reads, “You are so much greater than we ever were!” And at a May event in Fayette County, Mastriano told the audience that “when the right to life is restored in Pennsylvania and the United States, we’ll look back on the slaveowners in a similar fashion. Historically speaking.”
In Mastriano’s telling, the modern abortion rights movement trades on a legacy of genocide, racism, and eugenics.
Mastriano told The Daily Signal on Monday that Democrats including his opponent Attorney General Josh Shapiro “are beholden to this radical vision of America by Margaret Sanger she wanted to use, Sanger wanted to use abortion as eugenics to remove Italians, African Americans, everyone who didn’t look like her.”
Sanger, who died in 1966, was a birth control advocate and sex educator who established several organizations that became the International Planned Parenthood Federation and the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. She was a supporter of eugenics, the belief that institutions should attempt to control human reproduction through forced sterilization, segregation, social isolation, and anti-immigrant policies in order to promote genetic traits and ethnicities considered ‘desirable.’
That is a legacy that Planned Parenthood denounces.
“Planned Parenthood denounces Margaret Sanger’s belief in eugenics. Planned Parenthood believes that all people — of every race, religion, gender identity, ability, immigration status, and geography — are full human beings with the right to determine their own future and decide, without coercion or judgment, whether and when to have children,” the group said.
The American Independent Foundation was unable to find any statements from Shapiro mentioning Sanger either positively or negatively. Shapiro has said he supports leaving the state’s laws as is, which currently allow abortion until 24 weeks of pregnancy.
“Mastriano is never going to pivot away from his dangerous, hardline stance — he only doubles down, and he’s made clear once again that if he’s elected, he wants to outlaw all abortion in Pennsylvania,” Shapiro spokesman Will Simons told the American Independent Foundation. “Josh Shapiro will continue to defend Pennsylvanians’ freedoms and as Governor, he’ll veto any bill that takes away from the right to choose.”
Shoring up the suburbs
There are signs that Mastriano’s abortion policies play particularly poorly in the Philadelphia suburbs, areas that could be decisive on Election Night. A Democratic surge there was key to President Joe Biden’s 2020 victory in the Keystone State.
Shapiro has capitalized on Mastriano’s unpopular views, warning that Pennsylvania faces economic “chaos” if Republicans pass restrictive abortion laws. Shapiro said that if Mastriano were elected governor and signed a six-week abortion ban, it would make it hard for companies to attract and retain skilled workers.
Duolingo CEO Luis von Ahn, whose Pittsburgh-based company runs a popular language-learning app, said he would move its headquarters out of the state if abortion were outlawed.
“To all Pennsylvania politicians: I love that @duolingo is headquartered in Pittsburgh and that y’all use it as an example that successful tech companies can start here,” von Ahn tweeted in June. “If PA makes abortion illegal, we won’t be able to attract talent and we’ll have to grow our offices elsewhere.”
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.