Pennsylvania's Attorney General Josh Shapiro entered Pennsylvania into a multi-state coalition this week to protect access to legal, professional abortion care. The group submitted an amicus brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit to voice support for a lawsuit that challenges several recent Arkansas state laws that ban abortion after 18 weeks and restrict access to reproductive care.
“An assault on reproductive rights anywhere undermines reproductive rights everywhere,” Shapiro said. “We’ve seen these partisan, baseless attempts to subvert well established law time and time again in Pennsylvania and other states – and we’re not standing for it. Women must have control over their own bodies. They deserve the right to access quality, safe reproductive health care free from any interference. And so long as I hold this position, that’s exactly what I’ll fight to preserve."
Shapiro emphasized his distaste for anti-abortion proposals, negatively citing that earlier in the week nine Republican members of Pennsylvania's congressional delegation sent a request to the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade and Casey v. Planned Parenthood.
“Women in America continue to be subject to partisan, narrow-minded opinions. If Pennsylvania and other states do not join together to defend the U.S. Constitution in Arkansas and every state where it is threatened, it will represent a generational setback for all women,” Shapiro said.
In 2019, the Arkansas state legislature passed several laws designed to restrict access to abortion services. The laws criminalize abortions performed after 18 weeks and establish additional roadblocks to women seeking abortions. Plaintiffs argue that Arkansas’ laws make abortion care either unavailable or less safe for women.
On July 28, 2019, a U.S. District Court temporarily blocked the Arkansas laws restricting abortion care. Arkansas' state government then brought the case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.
In the brief submitted this week, the coalition argues that the Arkansas laws violate women’s constitutional right to choose to have an abortion before viability, as recognized in Roe v. Wade. The coalition further argues that limiting or eliminating women’s access to safe and legal abortion leads to worse health and socioeconomic outcomes for women, including forcing women to endure pregnancy side effects, limiting physical activity, restriction from full-time employment, and increased reliance on publicly funded safety-net programs.
In filing the brief, Attorney General Shapiro joined a coalition led by California Attorney General Becerra along with the Attorneys General of Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia.