Did you know Spotlight PA is a nonprofit? Learn more about our nonpartisan journalism »
Skip to main content
Main content

Shapiro budgets millions for anti-abortion centers

Plus, judge rejects challenge of Pa. school funding ruling.

The logo of PA Post, a free daily newsletter delivering the top news from across Pennsylvania every day.

A daily newsletter by The logo of Spotlight PA, an independent, nonpartisan newsroom producing investigative journalism for Pennsylvania.
Your Postmaster: Colin Deppen

Thursday, June 22, 2023
Contested spending, landmark ruling, Forward Party, voter data, advertising ban, strike verge, and OceanGate connections. This is PA Post.

This week marks one year since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, giving states the power to determine how, where, and why someone can get a legal abortion, if at all.

While Pennsylvania does not appear poised to outlaw abortion in the immediate future, the state has for years funded centers designed to prevent abortions by dissuading people considering the procedure, delaying access to medically legitimate prenatal and abortion care, doctors say.

That would continue under the first budget proposed by Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro, who has billed himself as a staunch defender of the right to choose. Shapiro's proposal includes roughly $6 million for anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers, almost $1 million of it from the state line item providing cash assistance to low-income families, Capital-Star reported in April. 

Abortion access advocates urged him to zero the funding out.

"Three out of four Pennsylvanians who qualify for [cash assistance] are denied it, yet 100% of six-figure, anti-abortion executives willing to take those funds get it," Tara Murtha of the Women's Law Project said.

THE CONTEXT: Pennsylvania's funding of crisis pregnancy centers has been contested for years, culminating in a lawsuit that sought more information on how the Harrisburg-based recipient of the funds, Real Alternatives, is using the millions it receives from taxpayers annually.

Similar dynamics are playing out in other states.

Democratic Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has vetoed line items for similar services before, while Democratic-led Minnesota is looking to apply conditions to that state's funding of the centers in an effort to mute their anti-abortion agenda. Critics say the centers offer misleading information and conceal their true purpose: to discourage abortions. Supporters say the centers — of which there are well over 100 statewide — offer options.

Their reach is expanding in a post-Roe America, including through Google ads targeting states like Pennsylvania, where abortion is less restricted, and directing abortion seekers to crisis pregnancy centers instead.

Shapiro's office did not respond to requests for comment. His budget plan isn't final. Negotiations continue ahead of a June 30 deadline.


"How is he financially supporting himself? How is he able to travel abroad without detection? Has he assumed a false identity? Who's helping him?"

Attorney Andrea Levy on Gettysburg College assault suspect Ian Cleary eluding capture for years after his "So I raped you" message
» Bill to open medical marijuana access clears Pa. Senate panel, via CNHI

» Pa. House backs conservation corridor study, via Observer-Reporter

» Plan to fix toxic, crumbling schools heads to full House, via Capital-Star

» Ex-public defender Bradford-Grey to run for state AG, via PennLive

» Senate confirms Shapiro's Labor & Industry, DDAP leads, via Capital-Star
Investigative journalism that gets results. Spotlight PA's vital work depends on you. Donate now.

» HOW HARRISBURG WORKS: Join us TONIGHT at 6 p.m. ET on Zoom for a free panel on Pennsylvania’s 2023 budget, what issues are on the table, and how you can get involved. Register for the event here and submit your questions to events@spotlightpa.org


A towering view of a foxglove in bloom, via Starr B. Send us your photos by email, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.

A photo from below a plant with purple flowers and visible buds, the vantage making the plant appear much taller than it actually is.
Today's top news story in Pennsylvania.RULING STANDS: Commonwealth Court Judge Renee Cohn Jubelirer has rejected an attempt by Republican lawmakers to overturn her February school funding ruling that found the state's system to be unconstitutional and ordered lawmakers and the governor to find a fix. The Inquirer (paywall) reports Republicans have 30 days to appeal. It's unclear if they will. GOP leaders were non-committal on Wednesday.
  • RELATED: How a landmark school funding ruling is influencing budget talks in Harrisburg, via Spotlight PA
Today's second top news story in Pennsylvania.NEW PARTY: Two Pennsylvania lawmakers have joined former presidential hopeful Andrew Yang's new centrist Forward Party, via City & State. State Sens. Lisa Boscola (Lehigh) and Anthony H. Williams (Philadelphia) will remain registered Democrats. Boscola told Spotlight PA's Stephen Caruso on Wednesday that she's a proud Democrat but "committed to changing" political discourse in Harrisburg.

Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania.NEXT EXIT: Eight GOP-led states have cut ties with a multistate consortium that helps combat voter fraud and ensure accurate voter rolls, citing concerns over privacy and transparency amid a rash of related misinformation. Pennsylvania Sen. Cris Dush (R., Jefferson) wants the Commonwealth to follow suit, against expert advice, per WITF. A Dush-helmed committee could vote on it soon.

Today's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.MMJ BILLS: Pennsylvania medical marijuana law updates cleared a state Senate panel Wednesday. Among the changes: allowing any doctor to prescribe the drug, eliminating the list of qualifying conditions for patients, and getting rid of an advertising ban for physicians. That ban, Spotlight PA found, gave an edge to certification companies, some of which made questionable or even dangerous claims.

Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania.STRIKE WATCH: The ball is now in the court of some 1,500 union workers at Pittsburgh-based Wabtec's locomotive plant in Erie. The Times-News (paywall) reports the employer has made its "best and final" contract offer and a simple majority of workers will decide whether or not to take it. Union leaders recommend rejecting the offer. Voting is set for today. A strike could immediately follow.
Support vital journalism for Pennsylvania. The future of local news is in your hands. Donate now.

OCEAN SEARCH: WPVI reports that Philadelphia University grad Shahzada Dawood and his son are among the passengers on a submersible that went missing on its way to view the wreckage of the Titanic in the North Atlantic. The vessel's oxygen supply could run out today, if the craft is still in tact.

FATEFUL VOYAGE: Alfred Hagen of Bucks County rode the same submersible to the Titanic wreckage in 2022 and told WPVI what he thinks might have happened this time. He also spoke about the now-missing people he knows, adding, "it tortures you at a certain level."

POLICY UPDATE: The Central York school board this week passed a new policy allowing library books to be restricted by age, but on a per student basis at the parent's request. The district drew national headlines for blanket policies restricting diversity-minded books and materials.

GOOD WITCH: Rachel Yoder wrote about "The Good Witches of Pennsylvania" for Harper's and the Amish woman she met practicing "powwow or Braucherei or pulling pain or active prayer or witchcraft or folk-cultural religious ritual," though she would never call it any of those things.

DOG BITES MAN: Mail carriers in Pennsylvania are among the most likely to be bit by a dog in the U.S. Lehigh Valley News reports about 5,300 postal workers were attacked by dogs last year — and average of about 15 a day, according to USPS. Pennsylvania ranks fourth nationwide.

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 5:30 p.m. on issue date will be counted.

Yesterday's answer: Intolerable

Congrats to our daily winners: Kimberly D., Julie K., Craig W., Barbara F., Elaine C., Becky C., Don H., Jon W., Kim C., Dan A., Susan N.-Z., Stacy S., Dianne K., James B., Tom M., Doug W., William Z., Amy Z., Wendy A., Bob C., and Dennis M.
Like PA Post? Share it with a friend.

Love PA Post? Support it with a tax-deductible gift.

Forwarded this newsletter? Subscribe here.
Spotlight PA is an independent, non-partisan newsroom powered by The Philadelphia Inquirer in partnership with PennLive/The Patriot-News, TribLIVE/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and WITF Public Media.

Copyright © Spotlight PA / The Philadelphia Inquirer, All rights reserved.

Spotlight PA
PO Box 11728
Harrisburg, PA 17108-1728


You're receiving this email because you subscribed to PA Post, a daily newsletter by Spotlight PA.

This email was sent to: <<Email Address>>

Receiving too many emails from Spotlight PA?

To change your newsletter subscriptions and frequency, you can update your preferences.

To stop receiving fundraising messages, you can update your preferences and select "Opt out of Fundraising."

To stop receiving ALL EMAILS from Spotlight PA, including all of our investigations and newsletters, you can completely unsubscribe here.