On Aug. 3, the administration of Democratic Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro and Department of Human Services Secretary Val Arkoosh announced that the state’s contract with Real Alternatives, an organization that partners with several anti-abortion “crisis pregnancy centers,” will end on Dec. 31.
Real Alternatives says it offers “life-affirming pregnancy and parenting support services,” but its providers work to convince pregnant people not to terminate a pregnancy.
“These centers are known for pretending to provide health care services to pregnant women when in reality, they have a singular goal of dissuading women from receiving abortions and have long track records of giving their clients dubious advice from non-medical professionals,” reads a statement from the office of Pennsylvania state Sen. Amanda Cappelletti.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says “crisis pregnancy centers” are “facilities that represent themselves as legitimate reproductive health care clinics providing care for pregnant people, but actually aim to dissuade people from accessing certain types of reproductive health care, including abortion care and even contraceptive options.”
“As taxpayers, we’re not going to be funding these harmful centers,” Signe Espinoza, the executive director of Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Advocates, told the American Independent Foundation. “As much as opposition paints this as a political issue, for us this was never about politics, this was always about the health and safety of Pennsylvanians who are looking for the full range of sexual reproductive health care.”
Real Alternatives has received over $135 million from Pennsylvania since it began its partnership in 1993; $21 million has come from funds intended to support women and children through the Temporary Aid for Needy Families program but instead funneled into the various “crisis pregnancy centers” that Real Alternatives partners with, Keystone Newsroom reports. According to ABC News, in 2022, the organization received $7.263 million through the Department of Pennsylvania Health and Human Services via the state’s General Assembly funds.
“They have no place in any budget, they do not provide health care, they delay real care and have these awful, coercive practices that really harm people who are trying to look for options,” Espinoza said. “So, you know, our hope is that this is the first big step in many steps of making sure that, for us, that they just don’t exist.”
Espinoza said that before the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June 2022, there were over 145 abortion providers in the state. Today, there are just 18 left.
She said that 27 of the 156 “crisis pregnancy centers” in the state are funded by Real Alternatives. The others are privately funded.
Pennsylvania follows Michigan, the first state to end its funding of Real Alternatives. In her 2020 budget, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer vetoed a $700,000 spend for the controversial organization.
“I think it really does just show abortion-seekers that the administration and the state of Pennsylvania is with them, no matter what they decide, and has made a big statement to ensure that these predatory practices are not funded in the state. That era is certainly over for Real Alternatives in Pennsylvania,” Espinoza said.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.