In 1971 Marvin Gaye released a song entitled “What’s Going On?” This could now be the anthem of the state of Pennsylvania. The mystery surrounds the official Waiver List of non-life-sustaining PA businesses that have been allowed to remain open during the Covid-19 crisis. The official list specifically designates Ambulatory Health Care facilities that can continue physical operation but that Elective procedures are PROHIBITED. So where do surgical abortion centers fall under the guidelines of this edict and why are they still open for business if elective procedures are prohibited? Or did they receive a waiver?
I can tell you from just a few short hours of trying to get answers to these questions that it’s a hot potato that is being passed around from state office to office. No game plan seems to have been put in place in the event these questions popped up. Or perhaps being coy is the game plan.
I initially contacted my state representatives about the issue. I then placed a call into Governor Wolf’s office and landed at the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED). This is the branch that handles the “list” of what can be open or closed and is responsible for the business waiver process. The person who answered said my question would be better addressed by the Department of Health (DOH). I wasn’t so sure about that but proceeded accordingly. The contact at the Department of Health listened to my question and said something about medical offices can be open. I reiterated I was not calling about medical offices but abortion surgical centers that are performing elective surgeries. She put me on hold for a moment and transferred me back to the DCED. I then told whoever answered to please pass my concerns onto someone in Harrisburg. I followed up with an email to the Director and Deputy Director of Communications for the DCED looking for answers.
The bottom line is abortion advocate and former Planned Parenthood volunteer Tom Wolf is not releasing the Waiver list so we cannot confirm if all abortion centers are on it and if they are, what criteria were used for that decision. The Waiver Application asked for business contact information and the number of employees, followed by the following three questions:
How does it meet the life-sustaining definition? (justification)
Does the business have a plan to meet CDC recommended guidelines to maintain employee safety during the COVID-19 pandemic?
How many employees would be in the company’s office or a physical location in order to do the critical work?
Ironically, the abortion industry in PA fought against any regulatory inspections for years until the Grand Jury thought otherwise after the Gosnell “House of Horrors” tragedy. And now we may be asking this same industry if it is following recommended guidelines to stop the spread of the Covid virus. I’m not sure the following guidelines are in the abortion industry’s DNA. There is also the question of needed medical supplies that may be housed in these open abortion centers and could be better used to relieve the stress on what we are told is an overloaded hospital system.
SpotlightPA is a non-partisan investigative journalism initiative that digs into questions within PA local government. They recently published an article about two companies that originally were granted waivers but then were rescinded once questions arose about these businesses’ connections to Democratic Governor Wolf and Republican Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati. Self-interest knows no party lines. As of late this afternoon, SpotlightPA advises they have been in contact with state officials about releasing the list of which businesses have been granted or denied waivers. So far, the state has declined to release this information.
The recommendation provided by the local state rep and Harrisburg is that if you feel there is a violation of the Governor’s Life-Sustaining Business Orders, you can call your local non-emergency number (e.g. 311). However, if we do not know who received waivers it is difficult to determine who is non-compliant, so that is an ineffective course of action. For any readers of this blog who are not PA residents, you might be able to learn something from this exercise and how your home state defines if abortion facilities remain open or closed.
There are a lot of moving parts in a crisis and decisions need to be made quickly and the health of everyone who already has or will contract the virus is of primary importance. Transparency and consistency in the decision-making process is all we ask.