Missouri Budget Committee to Determine Fate of Abortion Alternatives Funding
by Steven Ertelt
March 4, 2010
Jefferson City, MO (LifeNews.com) — The Missouri House Budget Committee will determine the fate of the funding for the Alternatives to Abortion (ATA) program when it meets next week. Last month, the House Committee on Mental Health, Health and Social Services recommended the complete elimination of funding.
House Budget Committee chairman Allen Icet instructed the six appropriations committees that take the first pass of the state budget to come up with suggestions on cutting spending that eliminating the pregnancy help money is one item on the chopping block.
State pro-life groups were concerned after that recommendation and shifted into high gear to urge legislators to keep the program.
Now, Rep. Icet has proposed to retain full funding, all $1.9 million of the ATA budget.
The issue of ATA funding and all other state budget matters will come before the panel when lawmakers return from their break on Monday.
The Missouri Catholic Conference told LifeNews.com pro-life advocates need to contact members of the panel soon to urge support for funding the abortion alternatives program.
"The Budget Committee may move the budget bills to the full House of Representatives very quickly. For this reason, the MCC is asking Catholic citizens to contact their state representative over the legislative spring break," it said.
Sam Lee of Campaign Life Missouri is also monitoring the situation.
"Pro-abortion reps had intended to remove funding in House Appropriations for Health & Mental Health Committee. But funds had already been cut by chairman’s amendment," he said.
Lee urged pro-life advocates to thank Icet and Rep. David Sater for restoring the funds as well as new Democrats for Life Caucus leaders Reps. Linda Fischer, Ed Schieffer and Paul Quinn.
Although some lawmakers say a cut in funding is needed because of budget constraints, MCC says there are better places to cut.
"No one can dispute that times are hard and that state budget cuts are necessary," the Missouri Catholic Conference said. "However, the Missouri state budget totals over 23 billion dollars. Surely, in this multi-billion dollar budget, budget writers can find $1.9 million to preserve funding for alternatives to abortion."
The ATA program funds maternity homes, pregnancy resource centers and other organizations that offer a wide range of services to women in crisis pregnancies. Services include ultra-sounds, emergency housing and counseling, clothing, baby supplies, prenatal care, parenting skills and adoption assistance.
The program’s main competitor is the abortion industry and the Missouri Catholic Conference says Planned Parenthood already does too many abortions in the state.
In its most recent report, covering the fiscal year of July 1, 2006 to June 30, 2007, St. Louis Planned Parenthood reported performing 6,396 abortions. Most of these were surgical abortions and, averaged out, it represents 105 surgical abortions per week, or 21 surgical abortions per day.
"In contrast, pregnancy resource centers funded by ATA offer women time for reflection. Women can view an ultra-sound of their developing baby. Assistance is offered not just during the pregnancy but for the first year after the baby’s birth," the Catholic group said.
This is the second time in the last several months that the program has been in jeopardy.
ACTION: Contact the Missouri legislature at https://www.moga.mo.gov and urge strong support for the Alternatives to Abortion Program.
Related web sites:
Missouri Catholic Conference – https://www.mocatholic.org
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