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'Unamerican And Unacceptable': Gov. Tom Wolf Says Potential Overturning Of Roe V. Wade Puts Right To Make Own, Private Medical Decisions At Risk

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf addressed access to abortion and protection over women's right to choose on Wednesday morning. Wolf was joined by members of Planned Parenthood in Philadelphia, where he said abortion must remain safe and legal.

"I am very angry, angry because today the right to bodily autonomy, the right that has been enshrined in law for more than a generation, is under attack," Wolf said. "I am angry because the right to privacy is under attack. I am angry because the rights of women in this nation are under attack and I am angry because the idea at the heart of American exceptionalism, the idea that I have agency over my own life is under attack, so I am angry today."

Wolf's remarks come following a leaked draft opinion suggesting the Supreme Court may overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that legalized abortion. He says if the Supreme Court goes through with the overturning it puts "the right of every American to make their own, private medical decisions in jeopardy."

"We are in a crisis moment, make no mistake about it," said Dayle Steinberg, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Southeastern Pennsylvania.

Gut-wrenching blow, assault, outrage — just some of the words used to describe a pending decision that would leave abortion access to the states.

"The Supreme Court leaked opinion has lit a fire across our country and has galvanized us and we will not allow our rights to be dismissed and dismantled," Steinberg said.

At Independence Hall Wednesday, abortion activists joined elected officials in calling out the Supreme Court's opinion that would potentially overturn Roe v. Wade.

"Abortion access in Pennsylvania will remain legal and safe as long as I am governor," Wolf said.

Access that could change with Republicans running united on limiting abortion care. It's a shift that, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, could impact tens of thousands of people.

Here's a look at the numbers.

In 2020, more than 32,000 abortions were performed in the state. Most of the women were between the ages of 20 to 29, still in their first trimester and in Philadelphia county.

Wolf vows to continue to veto any anti-abortion legislation. He says abortions will remain legal and safe as long as he is in office, noting that this is a prime example of why elections are important.

Wolf says this is going to be a fight and views this as an assault on reproductive freedoms.

The spokesman for the Pennsylvania House Republican Caucus tells Eyewitness News that Americans should be concerned that someone had a lack of integrity and leaked a draft from the highest court in the nation.

"The issue of standing up for life, and providing dignity for the born and unborn is something that has always had a lot of bipartisan support. So it's not just looking at what's ahead but also what we've done and again standing up for the dignity of the born and unborn," Jason Gottesman, with the PA House Republican Caucus, said.

Meanwhile, Gov. Wolf says barriers to abortion can keep women in poverty.

"Barriers to abortion do not keep women or children safe. In reality, those barriers hurt the very people they are supposedly intended to protect," Wolf said.

Chief Justice John Roberts confirmed the report of the draft opinion, calling the leak a "betrayal of the confidences of the court:"

To the extent this betrayal of the confidences of the Court was intended to undermine the integrity of our operations, it will not succeed. The work of the Court will not be affected in any way.

We at the Court are blessed to have a workforce – permanent employees and law clerks alike – intensely loyal to the institution and dedicated to the rule of law. Court employees have an exemplary and important tradition of respecting the confidentiality of the judicial process and upholding the trust of the Court. This was a singular and egregious breach of that trust that is an affront to the Court and the community of public servants who work here.

Roberts says there will be an investigation into the leak.

An official ruling has not been made yet, but if the draft opinion stands, the future of abortion rights would lie with individual states – which has already sparked protests across the country.

Hundreds of people gathered at Philadelphia's City Hall on Tuesday evening.

Organizers say it took a mass movement to win Roe v. Wade and it will take a similar movement to defend it.

If Roe is overturned, women would lose their federally-protected right to an abortion as early as June, something that has been intact since 1973. Twenty-six states are poised to outlaw abortion or weaken access, and 16 are in the other direction with laws designed to protect rights.

Some states, including New Jersey and Delaware, have laws to protect abortion rights, but there is no such legal protection in the Keystone State.

The GOP currently has the majority in the Pennsylvania House and Senate, but Gov. Tom Wolf has made it clear he will veto any legislation to overturn the current statute.

On Tuesday, Gov. Tom Wolf tweeted assuring Pennsylvanians abortion "is and will remain legal" in the Commonwealth.

A Temple law professor says she doesn't think there will be a rush to stop abortions in Pennsylvania if Roe is overturned.

"I don't think there will be a rush to ban abortions after Roe is overturned, if Roe is overturned. But I think that' there's not gonna be a rush to appeal the abortion restrictions that are on Pennsylvania books," Temple law professor Rachel Rebouche said.

A rally is being planned for May 14 in Harrisburg with the theme Hands Off Our Bodies.

CBS3's Ross DiMattei, Alecia Reid, and Jasmine Payoute contributed to this report. 

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