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Doug Mastriano said in 2019 women who violated proposed abortion ban should be charged with murder

State Sen. Doug Mastriano, the Republican candidate for governor of Pennsylvania, said in 2019 that women should be charged with murder if they violated his proposed abortion ban.

In an interview with Pennsylvania radio station WITF, Mastriano was pressed about a bill he sponsored that would generally ban abortions when a fetal heartbeat could be detected for the first time, usually about six weeks. Mastriano’s remarks in this interview had not previously been reported.

Under his bill, Mastriano was asked if a woman who decided to have an abortion at 10 weeks gestation would be charged with murder. Critics of the Mastriano-backed bill and other “heartbeat bills” say the roughly six-week delay often elapses before many women know they are pregnant.

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

When asked if he said yes they should be charged with murder, Mastriano replied, “Yes, I am.”

After the Supreme Court’s decision in June overturning Roe v. Wade, the future of abortion rights played an important role in the election campaign. But few races will prove more important in determining statewide abortion access than the gubernatorial contest in Pennsylvania, where those rights will be heavily influenced by the victory of Mastriano or his Democratic rival. State Attorney General Josh Shapiro this fall.

Mastriano played down his past support for tough abortion restrictions after winning the primary this spring, seeking to portray Shapiro as extreme on the issue while saying his personal views are “irrelevant” because ultimately, the legislature will draft any changes to current state law.

His campaign did not immediately respond to NBC News’ request for comment.

“My views are kind of irrelevant because I can’t rule by fiat, edict or fiat on the matter of life,” Mastriano said. told the Conservative Network Real America’s Voice in an interview he posted on his Twitter page on Monday. “It’s up to the people of Pennsylvania to decide. So if Pennsylvanians want exceptions, if they want to limit the number of weeks, it will have to come from your legislative body and then from my office.”

Shapiro said he supports current state law, which prohibits the procedure after 24 weeks with exceptions. Pennsylvania’s legislature has been under GOP control for years and is likely to still be Republican-led after elections this fall, making it quite possible Mastriano will be able to sign new restrictions. in law if he wins this fall.

“Doug Mastriano has said his number one priority is to ban abortion without exception for rape, incest or the life of the mother – and now it’s clear he also wants to prosecute women for murder for having made personal health decisions,” Manuel Bonder, a spokesman for Shapiro’s campaign, said in a statement. “Mastriano has the most extreme anti-choice stance in the nation — and there’s no limit to what he would go to deny Pennsylvania women their freedom.”

At the Pennsylvania Walk for Life last week, Mastriano called the battle over abortion rights “the most important issue, I think, in our lives.” On a call last week with the Pro-Life Coalition of Pennsylvania, reported by WESA, Mastriano said, “We can achieve and fulfill most of our life-protecting desires when we win on November 8.” , adding that he is looking forward to signing the law. “That is [a] heartbeat bill or” other legislation which would restrict the procedure.

Prior to the May primary, Mastriano expressed no desire to include exceptions for rape or incest in future legislation restricting abortion rights. He also described the saying “my body, my choice” as “ridiculous nonsense”. Responding to Roe’s potential for reversal, Mastriano said in a statement in May that he hoped the Supreme Court would overturn “this science-denying genocide.”

Elsewhere in that 2019 interview, Mastriano said doctors who perform abortions that would be illegal under his law should also be prosecuted for murder, adding that abortion “is absolutely” murder.

“So it’s up to the courts,” Mastriano said. “If it’s decided that this little person is a baby, a human being, then it’s murder. And it has to go through the legal process.”

His legislation ultimately failed to advance through the legislature and came as state Governor Tom Wolf, a Democrat, pledged to veto new abortion restrictions.

Mastriano later said in the WITF interview that all life conceived should have equal protection under the law.

“We know scientifically that when there is conception, it is a unique individual who never exists again in eternity,” he said. “And that person deserves a chance and equal rights before the law.”

A CBS News survey this month found that only 7% of Pennsylvania voters want abortion to be illegal in all cases, while 29% said they want it to be illegal in most cases. cases.

Mastriano trails Shapiro significantly in polls and fundraising. Former President Donald Trump, who supported Mastriano before the primary, is about to organize a tele-rally Tuesday to relaunch his candidacy.

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