An Ohio committee approved a bill that would provide a tax credit for donations made to life-affirming pregnancy help centers this week.
The vote came after four hearings during which pregnancy center representatives, pro-life advocates, and abortion supporters debated the merits of the bill in the Ohio House Ways and Means Committee over the last few weeks.
Sponsored by pro-life State Representatives Timothy Ginter and Jena Powell, H.B. 297 would provide a 50 percent tax credit up to $1,000 for any person living in Ohio who donates to an Ohio-based pregnancy help center.
Before the bill’s passage, representatives from Elizabeth’s New Life Center and Pregnancy Decision Health Centers—two organizations representing a total of ten pregnancy help locations in central and southwest Ohio—testified in support of the legislation.
Vivian Koob, founder and executive director of Elizabeth’s New Life Center serving Southwest Ohio, explained the positive impact her centers have made in their communities.
She said the organization operates a full prenatal care clinic where two physicians and six midwives work with patients to deliver “excellent and early prenatal care.”
“From when we started offering prenatal care in 2000, we have achieved excellent rates of preterm deliveries and low birth weight babies, consistently lower than state and county averages,” she said. “Preterm birth and low birth weight are within the top three causes of infant mortality, which makes these results especially significant since we serve a socially high-risk population, and all are on Medicaid.”
Julie Moore, president of Pregnancy Decision Health Centers (PDHC), said that her organization serves a similar population.
“As no-cost service providers, pregnancy centers are in a strategic position to reach women in poverty who are at the greatest risk for adverse pregnancy and family outcomes,” she said. “Federal Poverty Level (FPL) guidelines for 2019 classify an individual as being at 200 percent of FPL with an income level of $24,980. These individuals often rely on Medicaid and other Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) benefits for medical care, food, and supportive services. PDHC statistics demonstrate our ability to reach these families. In 2018, 66 percent of the women served at PDHC reported an annual income of less than $15,000 and an additional 22 percent reported an income of less than $30,000.”
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Moore says her organization’s clients are overwhelmingly satisfied with their experience at PDHC.
“PDHC has an outstanding reputation among our clients,” she said. “Ninety-five percent report that they feel more confident and empowered after their visit to PDHC. Nearly 30 percent of all new clients are referred by a friend or relative for services.”
Last year alone, Koob says that Elizabeth’s New Life Center served over 15,000 individuals with over 51,000 services, saving the state well over $2 million.
Additionally, she said that women and families have received an average of $2,000 in free material assistance, including cribs, playpen, strollers, diapers, and other essential baby supplies. The center also provides over 150 classes on topics such as parenting, nutrition, smoking and alcohol cessation, domestic violence prevention, preventing child abuse, budgeting, use of credit cards, and more.
One of Elizabeth’s New Life Center’s former clients, Gabby Hawley, shared her personal testimony regarding how the organization served her and her daughter in their time of need.
“I came to Elizabeth’s New Life Center when I was faced with an unplanned pregnancy,” she said. “I walked in emotional, nervous, afraid, and left confident, motivated, and excited to bring life in this world. The Women’s Center was able to calm my fears and anxiety by allowing me to see my baby and hear her heartbeat for the very first time. They treated me with respect, love and compassion while informing me on all my options and educating me on community resources available to me.”
Today, Hawley has abundant gratitude for all Elizabeth’s New Life Center did for her.
“My daughter is now 3-years-old, is healthy, and is growing by leaps and bounds,” she said.
She also revealed that she is now employed with Elizabeth’s New Life Center as the program manager for the center’s Strong Beginnings program, which helps women to obtain health insurance, prenatal care, housing, WIC, and food assistance.
“I love working for this organization that provides hope, security, and encouragement for women in their time of need, as they have provided for me in my time of need,” she said.
Rebutting Planned Parenthood
Despite the myriad ways in which pregnancy help centers are serving Ohio women, Planned Parenthood still had objections to the bill at hand.
Lauren Blauvelt-Copelin, vice president of government affairs and public advocacy for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio and Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio, reiterated the abortion lobby’s claim that pregnancy centers are masquerading as “fake clinics.”
“This body continues to miss use Ohioans tax dollars to shame pregnant people and provide favoritism to Ohio Right to Life,” she said. “This favoritism is undeserved and in the worst interest for patients seeking care because the vast majority of Crisis Pregnancy Centers do not provide medical care and are not staffed daily by medical professionals. Crisis Pregnancy Centers are very biased. They have a clear and well-known agenda to prevent pregnant people from accessing safe, legal abortion.”
Addressing the abortion lobby’s charges, Koob said:
Let me assure you that we are anything but fake and we never lie to women. We have medical board-certified professional doctors overseeing all we do and they review all of our materials to see that they are medically accurate. We have a total of 28 credentialed medical professionals who work in our organization These are the paid staff but we also have many others, including three additional board-certified radiologists who read all of our ultrasound scans as volunteers. What we do not do is promote or refer for abortion. We are grounded in natural law, which is supported by our faith beliefs, that ALL LIFE is precious and that each human person should be treated with the respect and dignity they deserve as children of our Creator.
Koob also explained that her centers have educators, social workers, nurses, doctors and other professionals such as RDMS (a sonography credential) ultrasound techs who work for Elizabeth’s New Life Center as one of their 70 employees.
“Some have asked why PRC’s (pregnancy resource centers) would get this tax credit and not other organizations like hospitals,” she said. “PRC’s are generally funded by private individuals who have a deep concern for the health and well-being of both the mothers we serve, as well as the babies they are carrying. This is a very positive way to let those very generous individual donors know that the work of the PRC’s is highly valued in the state of Ohio.
“We have a governor who has made the welfare of children a very high priority in his administration,” she said. “This initiative fits very well with those priorities which are shared by a vast majority of our Ohio congressman and senators. The time has come to allow PRC’s to be recognized as health and welfare partners for the vast amount of free and loving services they provide in our state.”
LifeNews Note: Katie Franklin is a staff writer for Pregnancy Help News and content writer at Heartbeat International. She previously served as director of communications for Ohio Right to Life and is a graduate of Denison University where she earned a B.A. in history in 2013.