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Pa.'s abortion clinic desert, Grove's 2020 concession, and nursing home strikes

Plus, DA Krasner says he won't comply with Pa. House subpoena.


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Your Postmaster: Colin Deppen
August 24, 2022
Abortion desert, false claim, freeze bill, no comply, strike plan, stress survey, and car washing crimes. It's Wednesday. This is PA Post.

Abortion remains legal in Pennsylvania after Roe v. Wade, but clinics remain much harder to access for people in more rural parts of the state.

In State College and north-central Pennsylvania, that can mean long drives to the nearest provider and sometimes little help in finding one.

"It felt illegal," Abby Minor of Penns Valley recalled of her experience. "What other medical thing are you suddenly on your own googling for?"

Spotlight PA's State College bureau reports the disparity is rooted in the state's history of abortion restrictions, which made it difficult to financially sustain an abortion clinic in lower-population areas, and a series of troubles that led to the region's only provider closing its doors in 2010.

Read the full report on why people in State College and rural north-central Pa. don't have easy access to in-person abortion services here.

THE CONTEXT: In 2017, the Guttmacher Institute, which advocates for abortion access, reported 85% of Pennsylvania counties had no abortion clinic and 48% of Pennsylvania women lived in one of those counties.

Demand on abortion providers in cities like Pittsburgh and wait times have only grown with an influx of out-of-state patients after Roe's reversal.

Advocates say "medical abortions" with pills prescribed via telehealth visits reduce strain on providers and streamline services. (Medical abortions with pills are common but not advisable or possible for everyone.)

Planned Parenthood has added the telehealth option in central, northeastern, and southeastern Pennsylvania, but PublicSource says it remains limited here overall due to restrictive state laws that make it harder for clinics to expand services and harder for national providers to ship the pills in.

Spotlight PA reported that legislative discord over telehealth abortions is one reason Pennsylvania still lacks a general telehealth law.

In Pennsylvania, abortion is legal up to the 24th week of pregnancy. The overturning of Roe v. Wade by the U.S. Supreme Court in June didn't change that, but November's gubernatorial election could.


"I feel an obligation to make as much noise as I can. Other politicians are giving a wink and nod to this stuff. That's not acceptable." 

—State Rep. Dan Frankel (D., Allegheny) on antisemitic attacks directed at him on Gab after he criticized GOP gubernatorial nominee Doug Mastriano
It's Wednesday. Here's a dreamy frog photo from @mar_sees_lifeSend us your images, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag @spotlightpennsylvania.
'NOT FACTUAL': State Rep. Seth Grove (R., York), the House GOP's point person for election legislation, acknowledged this week that there weren't more votes than voters in Pennsylvania in 2020, per WITF. "That was not factual information," Grove, who also objected to Pennsylvania's 2020 results, said. The disproven claim was cited by GOP lawmakers and is still being cited by former President Trump. 

PAY FREEZE: A bill passed by the House State Government Committee last year would stop state legislators from collecting historic, inflation-linked pay raises this year. PennLive reports state Rep. Seth Grove is among the lawmakers supporting the freeze, which awaits action by the full state House. Bills to end the raises for good, meanwhile, have sat in committee for eight months or more.

NO COMPLY: Progressive Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner said his office will not comply with a subpoena issued by state lawmakers looking for grounds to impeach him by laying blame for the city's ongoing gun violence crisis at Krasner's feet, the Capital-Star reports. Krasner called the probe "illegal," "anti-democratic," and politically motivated. GOP leaders of the push say they're undeterred.

STRIKE WATCH: Staff for three of Pennsylvania's biggest nursing home chains say they are ready to strike on Sept. 2 at two dozen facilities statewide, WTAE reports. The Service Employees International Union-affiliated workers point to a historic investment in nursing homes in the new state budget in calling for better staffing ratios, wage hikes, health care, and succession clauses if and when a facility is sold.

FARM AID: A survey of Pennsylvania farmers and their mental health found embarrassment and cost remain the biggest obstacles to seeking help, Farm and Dairy reports. According to the findings, farmers are more likely to talk about mental health with their spouse, family, friends, or even a veterinarian than their primary doctor or a private counselor. Their stressors include finances, weather, and the long hours.

'WASH ME': The York Daily Record (paywall) asks: Is it now illegal to wash your car in York? And the York Daily Record answers: Yes, if you're using soap on pavement, which new stormwater ordinance changes prohibit. If you're using soap on grass or just water, you're good to go.

STATE DANE: Yesterday we shared this tweet, which lists the Great Dane as Pennsylvania's official state dog, and that piqued some curiosity about the choice. William Penn had one, but the official designation also says the Dane's head shape "resembles" the commonwealth's outline.

CLOSING UP: Knead Pizza says it's shutting down both of its Harrisburg locations and stopping operations immediately, the announcement coming on the heels of a unionization effort by employees, The Burg reports. 

CHIP SHOT: And the winner of Herr's "Flavored by Philly" potato chip competition is ... Long Hots and Sharp Provolone. Billy Penn reports the chips aren't in permanent rotation, so grab yours while you still can

BALL GAME: A pickleball tournament will bring players and visitors from multiple states to the Shenango Valley this weekend, The Herald reports. In related news: The New Yorker asks: "Can pickleball save America?"

Unscramble and send your answer to scrambler@spotlightpa.org. We'll shout out winners here, and one each week will get some Spotlight PA swag. Answers submitted by 6 p.m. on issue date will be counted.

*Bonus: Guess this week's theme on Friday for an extra chance at swag.
Yesterday's answer: Vintage

Congrats to our daily winners: Craig W., Michelle T., Warren D., Don H., Susan D., Elaine C., Brian B., Irene R., Chuck M., Ted W., Elvino M., Becky C., Kevin M., Mike B., Eddy Z., Kimberly D., Mark O., David S., Karen W., John F., Heidi B., Bessie R., Gwen R., Susan N.-Z., Ed R., John W., Judy M., Catherine B., Johnny C., Ed M., Deb N., George S., Jude M., Tom O., Steve H., John P., Kenneth J., James B., Cameron T., John A., Kathy B., Doris T., Diane P., Bill S., Myles M., Kim C., Dianne K., Patricia M., Starr B., Sharon J.-B., Derek C., Stanley J., Beth B., Helen M., Wendy A., Sharon P., Darlene K., John H., and Suzanne D.
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