The congressional redistricting maps released last week have drawn reaction ranging from resignation - "that's politics!" - to ridicule - "Republican Rorschach."
And though some were surprised at the degree of change, there was no hesitation in the state Senate to rubber-stamp the work of the Republican-dominated redistricting committee.
"We knew that the Republicans would use their control of the process to draw a map that benefited Republicans, but we did not expect them to abuse their power to this degree, all the while shutting out the public," said Pennsylvania Democratic Party Chairman Jim Burn.
Probably the most painfully convoluted of the new districts is the 7th District, currently held by Republican U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan.
The new map stretches Meehan's district from Delaware County through the center of Chester County like a belt and then extends into eastern Lancaster County and north to include about a quarter of Berks County.
"It's a 'Meehan-mander' instead of a gerrymander," said Delaware County Democratic Party Chairman David Landau. "It looks like an oil spill. Some parts of it don't even look contiguous."
The redistricting, which happens every 10 years as a follow to the Census, reflected population growth in Pennsylvania that was lower than the national average. Pennsylvania lost a congressional seat.
The Republicans - by virtue of controlling the state General Assembly and governor's office - had control of the redistricting panel. Among the changes is one in western Pennsylvania where lines are redrawn to put two incumbent Democrats in the same district so that one will likely lose a seat.
The redistricting map for Pennsylvania accomplished what was expected by making it easier for incumbents to be re-elected.
Some call it politics as usual. Some call it voters losing out again.
- The Pottstown Mercury
NEW PA. RULES ON ABORTION CLINICS
Abortion-rights supporters say the proposed law requiring the state's 22 free-standing abortion clinics to follow the same licensing regulations as other ambulatory surgical facilities is costly to comply with and could force some clinics to stop performing abortions.
But why shouldn't abortion clinics be held to the same standards as other health care facilities? Do abortion-clinic patients deserve any less? Isn't their safety just as important?
Abortion-rights supporters see the new regulations as another attack on reproductive-health rights. They say that every time something like this happens.
But the regulations more likely are an attempt to prevent a repeat of what was discovered last year at a West Philadelphia abortion clinic dubbed "House of Horrors," operated by Dr. Kermit Gosnell.
Gosnell, 69, has been charged with eight counts of murder in the deaths of a woman following a botched abortion. He also is charged in the deaths of seven babies allegedly born alive following illegal late-term abortions and killed with scissors.
The so-called House of Horrors is what prompted the state Legislature to act, not an opportunity for an end-run around abortion rights.
The new regulations, passed by the Senate and agreed to by the House, should discourage future Kermit Gosnells from engaging in such ghastly criminal behavior.
- Intelligencer Journal/Lancaster New Era