Source: Yahoo News
For nearly 30 years, Democratic and Republican lawmakers in Pennsylvania have approved millions of taxpayer dollars for an anti-abortion program. Now the state’s new governor plans to end the contract as the organization that distributes those funds and other groups like it gain attention since the overturning of Roe v. Wade. Pennsylvania plans to end on Dec. 31.
The longstanding contract with the nonprofit Real Alternatives, the first organization in the nation to secure significant state and federal subsidies to support anti-abortion counseling centers. Under the program, Real Alternatives distributed the state and federal funds to dozens of Pennsylvania centers, including Catholic Charities, anti-abortion counseling centers and maternity homes, which provide support and housing for pregnant women.
Pennsylvania was the first state to enact an official abortion alternative program in the mid-’90s.
Real Alternatives’ network of centers has seen about 350,000 women at 1.9 million office visits in Pennsylvania, the organization said in a statement. Last year, Pennsylvania sent about $7 million to the group, which distributed those funds to more than 70 centers. It inspired other states to find ways to fund organizations like it using taxpayer money. Even as Pennsylvania is poised to stop funding the program, the state’s move continues to have an impact nationwide.
Michelle Kuppersmith, the executive director for Campaign for Accountability, a watchdog group that has filed complaints against Real Alternatives’ use of taxpayer dollars, said Shapiro did the right thing by ending the contract.
“Now, just as many states unfortunately looked to Pennsylvania as a model for letting these programs into their states, we urge other states to follow suit in eliminating this spending that is not just wasteful, but actively harmful to the health of their citizens,” she said.
Since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the right to abortion last year, Republican-led states have sent more tax dollars to what are sometimes called “crisis pregnancy centers,” while Democratic-leaning states apply more scrutiny to them.
Democratic-led state have tried to thwart the centers, which for years have been accused of providing misleading information about abortion and contraception — for example, suggesting that abortion leads to mental health problems or breast cancer.
Even with the scrutiny, the centers have received strong support from those who benefited from their services. Alyssa MacAfee, 26, was one of them. She was homeless, jobless and in early recovery when she found out she was pregnant. She came to St. Margaret’s in Pennsylvania six months pregnant and stayed until her daughter was around 5 months old.
“Everyone was definitely looking at my situation like, ‘You cannot bring a baby into the world right now,’ but I knew that I wanted to,” she said.
MacAfee said she found the organization to be welcoming; she felt it was for people that had already decided to pursue parenthood. Since she’s left, MacAfee has a job, an apartment and even some of the diapers provided by Saint Margaret. “It turned out to be the biggest blessing life has ever given me,” she said.