The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) has decided not to renew its contract with Real Alternatives, a pregnancy resource center (PRC) that operates multiple facilities across the state. Real Alternatives has been receiving state funding since the mid-1990s, totaling over $134 million. However, despite an increase in the state budget for funding pregnancy resource centers, Real Alternatives will no longer receive any funding. The DHS will now accept applications from other “women’s health providers” who believe they meet the funding criteria.
Governor Josh Shapiro, who signed the budget, stated that his administration will no longer continue the practice of using taxpayer dollars to fund Real Alternatives and that women in the state deserve proper reproductive health care. He emphasized his commitment to defending a woman’s right to choose, as determined by the election results. However, it is worth noting that the existence of pregnancy resource centers does not change abortion laws but provides women with tangible resources and support should they choose an alternative to abortion.
A poll conducted last year revealed that 74% of Americans support public funding for pregnancy resource centers after learning about the services they provide. This includes 66% of self-identified “liberals.” Pregnancy resource centers offer life-affirming options for women who may be considering abortion but need resources to choose life for their children. While these centers do not provide or refer for abortions, they offer a wide range of services such as counseling, pregnancy testing, clothing, food, shelter, parenting classes, adoption information, and more, which are often not available at abortion facilities.
Real Alternatives expressed shock at the decision to terminate its contract and stated that the governor has been misinformed about the program’s necessity and success. The organization emphasized that approximately 60% of women who seek their services and are considering abortion ultimately choose to bring their baby to term. Furthermore, 84% of women who feel pressured to have an abortion also choose to continue with their pregnancies. Real Alternatives believes that terminating the program will result in an increase in abortions across the state, a fact that the Shapiro administration is likely aware of.
The decision to defund Real Alternatives raises concerns about the accessibility of life-affirming options and support services for women facing unplanned pregnancies in Pennsylvania and the potential impact on the abortion rate in the state.