GOP Official Supported Murder Charges for Women Who Get Abortions

“Is that a human being? Is that a little boy or girl? If it is, it deserves equal protection under the law.”
Pennsylvania Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano is greeted by former president Donald Trump at a rally on September 03, 2022 in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano is greeted by former president Donald Trump at a rally on September 03, 2022 in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Spencer Platt / Getty Images)

The Republican nominee for Pennsylvania governor once said that if women violated an abortion ban, they should be charged with murder.

State Sen. Doug Mastriano made the comment as part of an interview with a Pennsylvania radio station in 2019, according to NBC News. Mastriano, who had sponsored a bill that would ban abortion as early as six weeks into pregnancy, was asked about a hypothetical woman who had an abortion at 10 weeks’ gestation.

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“Would that woman who decided to have an abortion, which would be considered an illegal abortion, be charged with murder?” the interviewer asked.

“OK, let’s go back to the basic question there,” Mastriano said. “Is that a human being? Is that a little boy or girl? If it is, it deserves equal protection under the law.”

“So you’re saying yes?” the interviewer pressed.

“Yes, I am,” Mastriano said. 

Mastriano didn’t immediately reply to NBC News’ request for comment. However, in an interview with Real America’s Voice that Mastriano posted to his Twitter on Monday, Mastriano said that his views on abortion “are kind of irrelevant.”

“I cannot rule by fiat or edict or executive order on the issue of life,” Mastriano said. “It’s up to the people of Pennsylvania. If Pennsylvanians want exceptions, if they want to limit the number of weeks, it’s going to have to come through [a] legislative body and then my desk.” 

Now that the Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade, sending the issue of abortion back to the states, the future of the procedure will literally or figuratively be on the ballot in several midterm contests, including in Pennsylvania. Although the state currently has a Democratic governor, Republicans control Pennsylvania’s state Legislature and could enact abortion restrictions if a conservative governor takes office. 

While the anti-abortion movement typically considers abortion tantamount to murder, mainstream activists rarely say that they believe people who get abortions should be charged with crimes. Instead, abortion restrictions tend to focus on penalizing the people who perform or assist in abortions.

But that doesn’t mean that people who end their own pregnancies are safe from law enforcement. In April, a Texas woman was arrested for murder for what officials called a “self-induced abortion.” (The case was dropped.) Then, this summer, a 17-year-old was charged with a felony and two misdemeanors after she and her mother allegedly tried to self-manage her abortion in Nebraska. (Her trial is set for January.) 

“It’s clear that they either actively want to criminalize pregnant folks or don’t care that they are criminalized,” one abortion rights advocate said of the anti-abortion movement in an interview with VICE News earlier this year. “I don’t put anything past them. They’ve really tried everything.”