Planned Parenthood Wants to Defund Pregnancy Centers That Provide Real Choice for Women

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Apr 12, 2023   |   6:10PM   |   Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

At a time when pregnant mothers need support more than ever, Planned Parenthood is calling on Pennsylvania lawmakers to cut off funding to a vital pregnancy and parenting assistance program.

Abortions are still legal in Pennsylvania and more than half the country, but pro-abortion groups are putting intense pressure on women to abort their unborn babies in the wake of the Dobbs v. Jackson ruling.

Real Alternatives, which began under the administration of Democrat Gov. Bob Casey Sr., has served hundreds of thousands of mothers, in part, by alleviating that pressure through material support, information and counseling, organization president and CEO Kevin Bagatta told CNHI News this week.

Bagatta said Real Alternatives has served 345,367 pregnant and parenting mothers through 81 pregnancy resource centers and similar organizations across Pennsylvania. They provide pregnancy self-test kits, counseling, parenting and abstinence education, food, temporary shelter, adoption information and more, he said.

The program receives state funding to help mothers and babies from conception up to a year after birth, and has had bipartisan support from lawmakers for decades. Bagatta said he would like to see funding increase so they can help more families and families for a longer period of time.

This year, however, the Planned Parenthood abortion chain is calling on state Democrat leaders to defund the program, which would cut off access to pregnancy and parenting support services all across the state.

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State Sen. Judy Ward, R-Hollidaysburg, said the abortion chain’s demand is deeply troubling.

“If you think about it, this is an industry trying to force women into terminating their pregnancy, depriving these women of the joy of motherhood to line their own pockets,” Ward told LifeNews. “And it seems absolutely radical and troubling to me.”

On Tuesday, Signe Espinoza, executive director of Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Advocates, claimed taxpayer funding for Real Alternatives is “unacceptable,” according to CNHI.

“No matter where you stand on this issue, this is unacceptable,” the pro-abortion leader said. “These are people’s lives, and people are going into what they believe are medical centers to receive health care. Whether they choose to have an abortion, they deserve to receive that information, or whether they choose to continue a pregnancy they deserve non-judgmental pregnancy care.”

She and other abortion activists urged Gov. Josh Shapiro, a pro-abortion Democrat, to remove $7.2 million in funding for the program from the proposed state budget, according to the report.

But Bagatta said Real Alternatives never has received a formal complaint from the 300,000-plus women it has served, and they are clear about what services they offer, including medical referrals but not medical care. He told LifeNews that the program has been so successful that 17 other states have emulated it to serve thousands more women and babies.

Bagatta told LifeNews: “At each service visit, it is explained to the clients that if they have any concerns or complaints about the services they have received at the center they can call Real Alternatives.  We have never received a complaint or concern in over 1.8 million service visits!”

The program includes maternity homes, Catholic Charities and adoption agencies as well as pregnancy resource centers, and their goal is to empower women to choose life for their babies. Most counselors have bachelor’s or master’s degrees in social work, and many are licensed social workers and registered nurses, he continued.

“Calling to defund this highly accountable and successful women’s program is a pretty extreme idea,” he told LifeNews. “This program is a positive solution to the controversial issue of abortion.”

Ward praised the work of pregnancy resource centers, describing them as amazing organizations that help women overcome their struggles, whether it be education, finances, child care, housing or basic needs like diapers – “and they do it all in a loving, non-judgmental atmosphere.”

She told LifeNews that state Senate Republicans will work hard to keep supporting the program and ensure mothers and babies have access to the support they need.

Programs like Real Alternatives and pregnancy resource centers serve as havens of information and support for pregnant mothers and unborn babies, bucking against a society that claims killing unborn babies in abortions is safe, normal and good.

At these community-based charities, women learn that there are risks to abortion. They learn about their unborn baby’s development and receive financial and emotional support. And these organizations provide evidence-based information that women may not learn anywhere else, especially not at an abortion facility.

Many also offer pregnancy tests, parenting classes and material resources such as baby clothes, diapers, formula, car seats, cribs and playpens.

According to an analysis by the Charlotte Lozier Institute, pregnancy resource centers have helped save more than 800,000 unborn babies from abortion since 2016. The research found U.S. pregnancy resource centers served about 2 million people in 2019, providing more than 730,000 pregnancy tests, nearly half a million ultrasounds, 1.3 million packs of diapers and more than 2 million baby outfits, all for free.