by Steven Ertelt
July 11, 2006
Jefferson City, MO (LifeNews.com) — Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt signed a bill allowing donors to crisis pregnancy centers to be eligible for state tax breaks provided the donations go to groups that do not perform abortions or refer women to abortion centers. The legislation will help pregnant women, but Planned Parenthood opposes it because it would likely lose money as a result.
The legislation allows a tax write-off of half of the value of a donation made between $100 and $50,000. The state would limit the tax write-offs to a total of $2 million in donations annually.
"These are resource centers that truly do believe that we should have a culture that values human life," Blunt said as he signed the bill. "And they’re helping to build that culture all across our state."
Blunt signed the bill Tuesday morning at Open Arms Pregnancy Resource Center in Columbia.
"As you learn more about this center and others, you’ll find that they truly do provide a loving environment where they work with the woman who’s facing a crisis or an unplanned pregnancy, and help them make a choice and to choose life," Blunt said.
He told the Columbia Tribune newspaper that the bill should prompt Missouri residents to direct their spending to pregnancy centers instead of abortion agencies.
"I clearly believe that your money would be better spent here than at Planned Parenthood," he said.
The bill will help the centers provide women with abortion alternatives and practice medical, insurance and pregnancy-related help. That upsets Planned Parenthood, which stands to lose both donations and money from abortions as a result.
Peter Brownlie, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, attacked pregnancy centers in an interview with the Columbia newspaper and falsely claimed that they pressure women against having an abortion.
"They bombard them with anti-abortion propaganda, they use deceptive practices to attract women," Brownlie said. "They provide information from a very biased viewpoint and attempt to pressure women."
But Nile Abele, executive director of Open Arms told the Tribune that pregnancy centers help women rather than coerce them.
"We care about these women that come in and we realize that ultimately the choice is theirs to make," Abele said. "And so, empowering them with the information that they need to make a good choice is vital for them as they’re in this decision-making process."
The tax credit is in addition to any federal tax deduction that may be available.
The House backed the measure on a 125-32 vote and the state Senate signed off on it as well.
Last year both chambers agreed on the legislation but they could not resolve the differences in the bill and a final version never made it to the governor.
Sam Lee of Campaign Life Missouri told LifeNews.com that pro-life advocates were happy Blunt signed the bill.
"After seven years of lobbying, pro-lifers finally convinced lawmakers to enact this important measure," he said.
"Pregnancy resource centers deserve our help," he said, adding that they have helped thousands of women over the years.
There are about 60 pregnancy centers throughout the state that provide women with pregnancy tests, counseling, shelter, baby needs and other practical resources and help.
The Department of Social Services would administer the tax credits, which would be allowed over the next six years. The credits expire after four years and can be used on both business and individual taxes.
The bill Blunt signed is HB 1485, the "Pregnancy Resource Center Tax Credit Act."