Doug Mastriano Said in 2019 That His Pennsylvania Bill Would Treat Abortions as Murder

Doug Mastriano, the far-right Republican nominee for governor in Pennsylvania, indicated in 2019 that women should be charged with murder if they violated a proposed abortion ban, a comment that Democrats on Tuesday highlighted as another example of Mr. Mastriano’s embrace of policies that are well outside the political mainstream.

As a state senator in October 2019, he co-sponsored a bill to ban abortion after the detection of electrical cardiac activity in the fetus, usually around six weeks.

On the radio show Smart Talk, the host, Scott LaMar, asked Mr. Mastriano if a woman would be charged with murder if she were 10 weeks pregnant and knowingly had what would be an illegal abortion under the bill. Mr. Mastriano answered, “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 host asked.

“Yes, I am,” Mr. Mastriano responded.

NBC News first brought attention to the interview on Tuesday. Mr. Mastriano’s team did not respond to a request for comment.

The issue of abortion rights has been a central theme of the Pennsylvania governor’s race.

In a state with a Republican-led Legislature, Attorney General Josh Shapiro, the Democratic nominee, has positioned himself as a bulwark against any effort to enact the kind of abortion bans that have taken hold in other states since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

Mr. Mastriano, who is behind in polling and advertising time, more recently suggested that “the people of Pennsylvania” will “decide what abortion looks like” in the state, not the governor — but there is no question that he has long maintained hard-right views on the issue.

Asked whether he believed in exceptions for rape or incest or to save the life of the mother, he replied during a primary debate, “I don’t give a way for exceptions.” Although his state bill had sought to ban abortion after a few weeks, he said in the debate that he wanted to end it completely: “I’m at conception. We’re going to have to work our way towards that.”

A Monmouth University poll over the summer found that only 10 percent of Americans surveyed thought abortion should always be illegal, and 65 percent of those surveyed said they would be bothered “a lot” if “states treated illegal abortions as a felony where the woman or her doctor could be charged with murder.”

“Doug Mastriano has said his No. 1 priority is banning abortion with no exceptions for rape, incest or the life of the mother — and now, it’s clear he also wants to prosecute women for murder for making personal health care decisions,” said Manuel Bonder, a spokesman for Mr. Shapiro. “Mastriano has the most extreme anti-choice position in the country.”

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