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Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf slammed for calling March for Life 'anti-woman rally'

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf speaks at the press conference in Harrisburg, Pa., on Oct. 29, 2020. |

The governor of Pennsylvania is facing intense criticism from pro-life activists after referring to the Pennsylvania March for Life as an "anti-woman rally."

Pennsylvania's Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf took to Twitter Monday after the Pennsylvania March for Life took place on the steps of the State Capitol in Harrisburg.

"Today's 'March for Life' in Harrisburg is just an anti-woman rally by a different name," Wolf argued. "They want to remove health care options during pregnancy — a time when so many already can't access life-saving care. I've vetoed 3 anti-choice bills. I'll veto any others that come to me."

Wolf received swift backlash for his comments from the speakers who addressed the pro-life advocates gathered at the event.

Abby Johnson, the former Planned Parenthood director who has become an outspoken pro-life advocate, replied to Wolf's tweet by categorically rejecting his characterization of the rally as "anti-woman."

"'Anti-woman' rally where the majority of [attendees] and speakers were women," Johnson tweeted. "Lol. You are a joke."

Jeanne Mancini, president of the March for Life, tweeted that the "women who marched today on behalf of innocent human life would disagree" with the governor's assessment. 

"We need more politicians who understand their first responsibility is to protect their own citizens, including the most vulnerable - the unborn," Mancini asserted. 

Speakers at the rally criticized Wolf's stance on the abortion issue.

Michael Geer of the Pennsylvania Family Institute lamented that "some in that building behind you, including our governor … have chosen to ignore the silent scream of the innocents, the more than 2 million preborn babies who have lost their lives to abortion here in Pennsylvania alone since the Roe v. Wade decision."

When Geer mentioned the governor, the crowd began to boo.

Other speakers at the march included the top Republicans in the state legislature, Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward and State House Speaker Bryan Cutler.

College student Elena Liguori, Bishop Ronald Gainer of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg, Rev. Herb Lusk III of Greater Exodus Baptist Church and Toni McFadden of the pro-life group Relationship Matters also spoke.

Ryan Bomberger of the pro-life group the Radiance Foundation, a Christian Post columnist, served as the master of ceremonies for the event. 

As he indicated in his tweet, Wolf has vetoed multiple pro-life bills passed by the Republican-controlled legislature, including a bill that would ban dismemberment abortions. Wolf is term-limited and cannot run for a third term in office. He is scheduled to leave office when his term expires in 2023. 

Mancini elaborated on the rationale for holding a march in Pennsylvania in an op-ed published in Townhall over the weekend.

She warned that a case currently before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has the potential to "strike down Pennsylvania's law prohibiting taxpayer funding of abortion via Medicaid." 

"It gets worse," she added. "A win for the abortion industry in this case would not only force state funding of abortion, but would likely enshrine abortion as a right in Pennsylvania's constitution."

In the past, there have been tense encounters between pro-life activists and public officials in Pennsylvania.

In 2019, Democratic State Rep. Brian Sims sparked outrage after harassing an elderly pro-life protester stationed outside a Planned Parenthood in Philadelphia and offering $100 to anyone who identified a woman and her two daughters praying outside the clinic. Sims, who later apologized for his behavior, is now running for lieutenant governor. 

In 2017, as pro-life teenagers demonstrated on a sidewalk outside Downingtown STEM Academy in the Philadelphia suburb of Downington, the school's assistant principal at the time, Zach Ruff, angrily confronted them. He told the pro-life protesters to "go to Hell where they are too" and asserted preborn babies "are not children" but "cells." Ruff was placed on administrative leave shortly after the encounter and later resigned.

Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: ryan.foley@christianpost.com

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