Welcome back to Broad + Liberty’s Candidate Spotlight Series! Each week, we reach out to candidates all across the Commonwealth up for election to public office — an equal number of Democrats and Republicans; incumbents and challengers. We ask one question per week about public policy pressing to you. Those who choose to respond will have their answers shared on our website. (Please see a special statement from the editors about unresponsive candidates.)

This week, nominees for public office across our great state will share their thoughts on abortion. Our nominees for U.S. Senate have already weighed in. Let’s see what our nominees for General Assembly have to say.

If you are a candidate for public office in Pennsylvania and would like to participate, please reach out to lsattler@broadandliberty.com.

This week’s question: For decades, Roe v. Wade provided the context for whether one identified as pro-life or pro-choice. However, the Dobbs decision has scrambled these traditional lines. Pro-life individuals now grapple with what exceptions on abortion they accept, and pro-choice individuals question at what stage in a pregnancy termination is acceptable. Given this new construct, please articulate your personal position on abortion, the role of the federal and state legislatures going forward, and what exceptions you would support regardless of whether you consider yourself to be pro-life or pro-choice.

Broad + Liberty thanks the following campaigns for their participation. Click a link below to jump to the response from your district’s candidate!

Tim Hennessey (I), R, Running for State House, District 26

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson left abortion law to each state, and Pennsylvania has long had a governing law, which I believe will remain our law in future years.  

I’ve always believed that rape, incest and protecting the life of the mother are reasons to allow abortion, despite my opponent’s television ads to the contrary, as he well knows.

Tim Hennessey’s opponent, Paul Friel, chose not to respond.

Nichole Missino, R, Running for State House, District 165

I am pro-life.

The overturning of Roe v. Wade did not affect the people of Pennsylvania as far as abortions are concerned.

Doug Mastriano is also pro-life, and despite numerous smears and misinformation campaigns, he has not pledged to change the guidelines under which individuals can have abortions. This type of decision would never end up in the hands of a governor.

What the overturning of Roe v. Wade did was say that abortion is not a constitutional right. States should and will set their abortion policies without any federal or constitutional standards to meet.

I believe that this decision was a long time coming, and ahead of an election cycle. It is being used by the left as another opportunity to divide us. These are the same people who had decades to codify it or push to have it codified.

The idea of allowing an abortion up until full term is unfathomable to me, and the left expects all to conform to the thought that this is acceptable.

I also do not think that an individual’s choice to have an abortion should be a tax payer’s burden.

Nichole Missino’s opponent, Jennifer O’Mara, chose not to respond.

Ilya Breyman, D, Running for State House, District 178

Roe v. Wade provided a compromise that respected bodily autonomy, and protected women’s health and the life of a viable fetus. This framework worked for decades, balancing, albeit precariously, the issues of autonomy and state action. It should have been codified by the United States Congress. 

I believe that this is a deeply personal, very difficult, extremely sensitive decision that belongs with women and their physicians. I am not a woman, and regardless of what my personal beliefs are, they should be superseded by the interests of the women having to make these decisions.

We know from history that banning abortion or severely restricting access to it doesn’t stop abortions. It stops safe abortions and results in women dying. When abortion is the only way to protect the mother’s life, health and medical decisions must be made quickly. 

Abortion in Pennsylvania is currently legal up to the 24th week of pregnancy and not beyond. As a state representative, I will vote against any legislation that attempts to criminalize abortion. I believe criminalizing abortion will increase maternal mortality and will make it difficult for obstetricians to practice in PA. 

At 24 weeks gestation, the fetus is considered viable or capable of surviving outside the womb with resuscitation at delivery and major medical intervention. In most cases, when a pregnant woman at 24 weeks or beyond suffers a life-threatening event, the baby is quickly delivered, and receives the intensive medical care as needed. It is at this point, through the miracles of modern medicine, a baby can survive on its own.

There are extremely rare exceptions after week 24 when it is impossible to protect the mother and safely deliver the baby. In these very difficult cases, I believe, the powers of the state should not interfere with an often heartbreaking decision between the woman and her physician. 

I believe, ultimately, abortion is a failure of our society to address issues of healthcare, good paying jobs, public education, and equal access to opportunity for all Americans. No woman should ever be asked to make her decision about whether or not to end a pregnancy under duress, and to me, the solution here should be to eliminate the duress, not the choice. In a country where there is no Roe v. Wade for both sides to lean on, this issue isn’t easily distilled down to whether or not you are “pro-life.” Organizations like the PA Pro-Life Federation, who have endorsed my opponent, have shown themselves to be staunchly “pro-birth,” but not much else. It’s insufficient, and the ink won’t be dry on their abortion ban before it starts to dawn on Pennsylvanians that they don’t really have a plan for what comes after that.   

To me, standing up for life, and the dignity and value inherent in all people means expanding quality childcare options for middle class families that don’t qualify for subsidies and can’t afford to pay out of pocket, helping small businesses provide flexible work arrangements for young parents, as well as incentives for both parents to take parental leave so that both men and women can enjoy time with their children without putting their careers on hold. Banning abortion doesn’t solve any of these inadequacies in our society to provide for the vulnerable and protect those who need it most. It just turns a blind eye to those problems, while choosing to make all of them a whole lot worse.

Ilya Breyman’s opponent, Kristin Marcell, chose not to respond.

Broad + Liberty is a nonprofit media endeavor dedicated to sharing voices and stories that are shut out of other media outlets. @BroadAndLiberty

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