Tuesday, July 13, 2010

What will the Pregnancy Assistance Fund fund?

The Pregnancy Assistance Fund, announced earlier this month, is supposed to help pregnant and parenting moms in need. No one questions that this is a laudable goal. But there's some skepticism from pro-life groups, who worry that this will just be another stream of income for Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood's own annual report statistics show that its parenting and adoption services are relatively dismal (see chart below). For instance, in 2007 they provided prenatal care help or referrals to not quite 11,000 women, but sold abortions to more than 300,000. Nevertheless, funding to abortion groups through the Pregnancy Assistance Fund is a valid concern, especially since the current administration has demonstrated a tight relationship with Planned Parenthood.
"We are encouraged that the government is finally setting aside a small amount of funds in the Pregnancy Assistance Fund to support those women who make the courageous and selfless choice to give life to their babies despite life's challenges," [said Care Net president Melinda Delahoyde]. “Our hope is that the White House will be true to its word and use this money to reduce abortion by giving it to those organizations that truly help women choose life."
The Family Research Council is also skeptical of the end recipient of the dollars from the new program, according to a statement received on Friday.
“FRC has been a leading voice for life-affirming pregnancy services, but we strongly oppose the idea that these grant recipients should include any group that financially profits from abortions," it said.
“The only way to help these mothers and their babies is by funneling the $25 million to organizations that won't make a profit from their work, namely pregnancy resources centers,” FRC added.
Other organizations, most notably Feminists for Life, are more optimistic:
Feminists for Life of America contacted today to say it believes the creation of the fund is good news and it is confident the money will end up in the right hands.
. . .
Feminists for Life of America is applauding the new grants, saying they are the "first federal grants of their kind" and they were "inspired by Feminists for Life's work on college campuses to develop resources for this underserved population."
"This is what we have been working towards. Pregnancy and parenting should never terminate an education," FFLA president Serrin Foster told today.
"No woman, no parent, should be forced to choose between her education and career or her child, a child that needs the very support education can help to provide. Pregnant and parenting students deserve better. That includes birthmothers--and student dads like mine. They deserve equal access to opportunities in higher education," she said.
"And society deserves to benefit from the unique contributions that their education will allow them to make," Foster added.
Foster said FFLA urges state governments to apply for the grants -- which range from $500,000 to $2 million dollars for up to three years -- and that her organization is offering assistance to state offices as they prepare their applications.
"As the creator of the program, FFL will subsequently offer direct assistance to universities and colleges who are awarded the matching funds to implement the program," she said.
Foster says the grants come seventeen years after FFL's College Outreach Program placed a focus on pregnant and parenting students on college and university campuses.
I very much hope that Feminists for Life is right, but there's only one way to find out. If you run a pro-life pregnancy clinic or help center, encourage your state to apply for a grant. The deadline is August 2nd. Let us know how it goes!

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