In the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s June decision to overturn the Roe v. Wade ruling protecting the liberty to have an abortion, we tried to shift the conversation a little: We attempted to ask local Jewish candidates, most of whom are Democrats, for one big policy idea to help pregnant women and mothers in a post-Roe America.
We did this because we already know where they stand on the abortion issue. And if you don’t, you can sign up for 10,000 emails a day that will send you statements like this one from Pennsylvania attorney general and gubernatorial candidate Josh Shapiro:
“This is a tragic day for our country, as a woman’s freedom to choose now depends on the state in which she lives,” Shapiro wrote on June 24, the day of the ruling.
We were not asking Shapiro and other Jewish Dems to give up the fight and accept the post-Roe state of the union. But we were asking if they could be proactive and perhaps work with the other side in one area where they agree.
The answer was, well, sort of.
The three politicians who responded to the query, Shapiro and PA House candidates from different Bucks County districts Gwen Stoltz (143) and Ilya Breyman (178), started their answers by reaffirming their support for abortion access.
“We need to keep abortion safe and legal in Pennsylvania,” Stoltz said. “That is truly how I feel because abortion is health care.”
“Vote for pro-choice candidates up and down the ballot in November.”
Breyman, who is running in a lower Bucks County district, echoed his upper Bucks contemporary.
“The most important thing we have to do is prevent a constitutional amendment from being passed to prevent the right of women to make reproductive health care decisions for themselves,” he said. “That’s why it’s important that we elect those candidates to the General Assembly.”
At the same time, when pushed, both Stoltz and Breyman came up with ideas for helping and protecting pregnant women and mothers.
Stoltz, a mother of three, outlined policies like paid family leave, accessible pre-K and affordable and transparent health insurance. In the health insurance industry specifically, she advocated for “patient-centric policies.”
As anyone who deals with providers and doctor’s offices knows, it’s an opaque system that can feel adversarial to the consumer. Stoltz wants more transparency about what the prices are and which medications are allowed.
She thinks this is particularly important for pregnant women.
“Let’s say a woman is pregnant, and she has another health condition. She still needs the medication, and she can’t afford it. Or let’s say the newborn needs something,” Stoltz said.
Breyman, a father of two, outlined a similar agenda but focused more on costs than transparency. He believes that even pro-lifers can agree that no woman should have to make an abortion decision for economic reasons. That’s why he thinks it’s essential to invest in reproductive health care and child care, as well as to pass laws that will help both parents find time to take care of children.
According to Breyman, the big problem with child care is that you either have to be poor to qualify for government benefits or rich to be able to afford it. He hopes that the U.S. reaches a point “where we’ll have universal pre-K,” he said.
“For many kids, those years are formative, and they define how successful they’ll be in college and in careers,” Breyman added.
The Holland resident believes that, at the very least, Democrats can use this moment to show that they are “pro-life and pro-choice at the same time.” They can promote a pro-family agenda without sacrificing “the right of women to make reproductive health care choices.”
But Breyman still thinks that the abortion issue comes first and that the pro-family ideas are relevant with or without Roe.
“If Roe hadn’t been overturned, we would still be talking about women as mothers, making sure their pregnancies are safe and that when children are born they can enjoy educational and health care opportunities,” he said.
Shapiro, like Stoltz and Breyman, believes the abortion issue is paramount. He says often on the campaign trail and to the media that the Pennsylvania General Assembly is poised to send a bill to the governor that would criminalize abortion. He also explains that his Republican opponent, Doug Mastriano, would sign that bill.
In his response to that question, Shapiro reasserted his priority.
“I believe abortion is health care — and access to abortion must be protected here in Pennsylvania,” he said via email. “I will veto any bill to further restrict abortion access, and as governor, I will continue to protect Pennsylvania law and the abortion rights of Pennsylvania women.” JE