Real Alternatives: Obama Should Back Pregnancy Centers to Reduce Abortions

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 6, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Real Alternatives: Obama Should Back Pregnancy Centers to Truly Reduce Abortions

by Maria Vitale Editorial Columnist
April 6
, 2009 Note: Maria Vitale is an editorial opinion columnist for She is the Public Relations Director for the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation and Vitale has written and reported for various broadcast and print media outlets, including National Public Radio, CBS Radio, and AP Radio.

I had just started out in broadcast journalism, and was doing my best imitation of a "60 Minutes" correspondent. The target of my inquisition was a nice young woman who was the spokesperson for a pregnancy resource center.

During the course of the interview, she seemed a bit shaken. After all, I had bought the lie that alternatives to abortion centers were "fake abortion clinics," violating standard practices of truth in advertising. I was grilling her as if she were a corporate crook.

When I look back on that interview, I cringe. Here was a woman trying her best to provide compassionate help to women facing unexpected pregnancies, and I had tried to portray her as an uncaring opportunist, preying upon women who wanted only to have abortions and “get on with their lives.”

How wrong I was. I understood how wrong when I had a change of heart, joined the pro-life movement, and got to see pregnancy resource centers in action as a Birthright volunteer. It became apparent to me that the pro-life movement really is a movement of love.

I am now fortunate to live in a state where offering alternatives to abortion is a matter of public policy. Pennsylvania is home to Real Alternatives, the ground-breaking program that reimburses participating pregnancy resource centers for their life-affirming work with clients.

Real Alternatives knows the bad rap that pregnancy resource centers have unfortunately received. On the Real Alternatives web site at, the subject of deceptive and manipulative practices is forthrightly addressed.

First of all, Real Alternatives is not familiar with centers with unscrupulous practices. For another, “Real Alternatives takes measures to ensure that it only contracts with organizations that provide compassionate and caring client services. Misleading a woman in crisis pregnancy about the scope of available services is not only dishonest, it is neither compassionate nor caring.

It is clear that concern for women is at the heart of the Real Alternatives approach. “It is neither compassionate nor caring to delay the results of a pregnancy test that only takes 5-7 minutes to complete,” Real Alternatives states. “Real Alternatives reviews each potential service provider’s pregnancy-testing and other intake procedures to make sure nothing could contribute to the anxiety of a woman experiencing a crisis pregnancy.”

So much for the abortion industry’s claim that pregnancy resource centers are in the coercion business.

More than 150,000 women have received support services from Real Alternatives. Real Alternatives has now become a model for the nation and a number of other states are attempting to duplicate its success. With the economic downturn placing a particular strain on pregnant women and their families, pregnancy resource centers are more important than ever in providing a safety net to some of our most vulnerable citizens.

That’s a story the media should be telling—the story of a government program that really works, that is empowering women to make good decisions for themselves and their families every day.

If President Barack Obama truly wants to reduce abortions in this country, he’ll become a cheerleader for Real Alternatives and other programs like it. As Real Alternatives states, through the program, “a woman is able to make more informed choices concerning her child, as well as begin to plan for a future that will include independence and self-sufficiency.”

That’s change we can all believe in.

Sign Up for Free Pro-Life News From

Daily Pro-Life News Report Twice-Weekly Pro-Life
News Report
Receive a free daily email report from with the latest pro-life news stories on abortion, euthanasia and stem cell research. Sign up here. Receive a free twice-weekly email report with the latest pro-life news headlines on abortion, euthanasia and stem cell research. Sign up here.