Pennsylvania Legislative Effort to Limit Abortion Access, Change Election Rules Moves Forward

Voters in Pennsylvania could be asked as early as the spring to weigh in on five significant amendments to the Pennsylvania Constitution, including one that would require voters to show ID every time they vote and another that asserts the state’s charter does not protect abortion access. The state Senate and House, largely along party lines, passed an omnibus resolution with five proposed amendments to the state constitution that could be sent to Pennsylvania voters as soon as spring 2023. The amendments would:

  • Declare the state constitution does not grant any right relating to abortion, including no right to public funding for the procedure
  • Require government-issued ID to vote
  • Require the auditor general to audit elections
  • Allow each major party’s gubernatorial nominee to choose their own running mate, rather than holding a separate primary for lieutenant governor
  • Expand the General Assembly’s power to reject regulations

The proposed amendments to the constitution must pass the state House and Senate twice, in two consecutive sessions. Both chambers need to pass the measure again during the 2023-24 session to send the proposed amendments to the voters. Each proposed amendment would appear on the ballot individually. Republican lawmakers insisted that the proposed abortion amendment would not ban abortion or change current state law, but legal experts believe it would lay the groundwork for additional restrictions or an outright ban by removing a legal foundation to challenge such laws in state courts. Proposed constitutional amendments can be sent to the voters during an election, even low turnout primaries. Since 1968, the year Pennsylvania’s current constitution went into effect, voters have rejected only six of 49 proposed amendments that reached them.