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Pro-choice Republicans Fighting to Survive in Post-Roe America

Pro-choice Republicans Fighting to Survive in Post-Roe America

State Rep. Todd Stephens R-Montgomery speaks during a news conference at Muhlenberg High School in Reading, Pa., Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2019. (Matt Rourke/AP)

By    |   Thursday, 20 October 2022 02:17 PM EDT

As he campaigns door to door, Todd Stephens, one of the last remaining pro-choice Republicans in Pennsylvania, is finding that the GOP’s record on abortion makes more of an impression than he does, according to Politico.

The Keystone State lawmaker, whose district covers part of Montgomery County, has depended on bipartisan backing to send him to capital Harrisburg for 12 years, but is now facing dwindling support, even from within his own party.

When people answer the door, Stephens tells his constituents how he has opposed his colleagues’ efforts to restrict abortion and reminds them of his invitation from the governor, a Democrat, to speak at a reproductive health event this summer.

When they don’t answer, he leaves a leaflet hanging from the doorknob that maintains one of his top priorities is "ensuring women make their own healthcare decisions."

As the number of states restricting abortion access continues to grow across the country, following the Supreme Court’s June reversal of Roe v. Wade, Democrats are contending that even pro-choice Republicans, like Stephens, cannot be trusted with state or federal elected office.         

"I vote my district, not my party," Stephens told Politico. "And I hope my fellow Republicans will take a look at what’s going on across Pennsylvania and around the country on this issue and recognize that some of the bills that they’ve introduced are extreme and dangerous for women."

Former state legislative staffer, and Stephens’ challenger, Melissa Cerrato, said the incumbent Republican was merely paying "lip service" to the issue.

"We need someone who is going to step up, do the work, and fight for the values of our community," she told Politico. "Todd is too passive. We deserve better."

Claiming the stakes are too high, Planned Parenthood’s Pennsylvania PAC, which endorsed Stephens in both 2018 and 2020, is now supporting Cerrato.

"We have been disappointed by Todd Stephens’ tenure in the legislature," the group’s director of coordinated programs, Lindsey Mauldin, said. "This year’s election is too important to settle for semi-consistent stances on sexual and reproductive health."

While abortion is still legal in Pennsylvania, GOP lawmakers have said they intend to go around the governor next year and pass a veto-proof bill that asks voters to amend the state constitution with a prohibition on the controversial procedure.

Several voters told Politico that after years of supporting Stephens they plan to vote for Cerrato, with abortion being the driving factor.

"I’m definitely motivated by the loss of rights," Jean Michelle DeNardo said. "I don’t want to see that happen for my daughter and for future generations. I voted for him in the past, but the stakes are different now.

"There are bigger things at stake that have to take precedence over the more local issues where I think he’s done a good job. There’s just a different level of urgency."

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Politics
As he campaigns door to door, Todd Stephens, one of the last remaining pro-choice Republicans in Pennsylvania, is finding that the GOP's record on abortion makes more of an impression than he does, according to Politico.
abortion, pennsylvania, todd stephens, gop
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2022-17-20
Thursday, 20 October 2022 02:17 PM
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