Real Alternatives offers support to moms and babies during and after pregnancy.
The state of Pennsylvania announced this month that it would be ending its partnership with a nonprofit group that helps fund pregnancy centers throughout the state.
The state Department of Human Services said in a press release that its contract with Real Alternatives “will come to an end by Dec. 31, 2023,” after nearly 30 years.
Real Alternatives says on its website that it routes funding to a “network of social service agencies, pregnancy support centers, maternity residences, and adoption agencies that offer comprehensive, life-affirming alternatives to abortion to women dealing with unplanned pregnancies.”
Among the services offered by the program include counseling, food, shelter, childbirth classes, and other amenities. The organization says it has helped hundreds of thousands of pregnant women and mothers since 1996.
Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro in the release tied the decision explicitly to support for abortion. “Pennsylvanians made clear by electing me as governor that they support a woman’s freedom to choose, and I will be steadfast in defending that right,” he said.
A representative with Shapiro’s office did not respond to a request for comment on the decision. Real Alternatives also did not respond to a query seeking comment, including on whether the state’s cancellation would affect its pregnancy-outreach operations.
Pennsylvania Department of Human Services Secretary Val Arkoosh said in the state’s press release that the contract cancellation was “a huge step forward” for the state. Pro-abortion activists regularly criticize pro-life pregnancy centers for what they claim are deceptive and manipulative practices; Arkoosh has been an outspoken proponent of abortion in the past.
In a statement after the state announced the contract termination, Real Alternatives said it was “shocked” to learn of the cancellation, claiming that Shapiro “has been terribly misinformed about the need for the program and its success.”
“There has never been a complaint from the 350,000 women we have served” in nearly 30 years, the group said.
“Presently, 83 centers throughout the commonwealth provide compassionate, caring support services to 13,500 women a year, from the moment they find out they are pregnant through 12 months after the birth of the baby,” the statement said.
The organization claimed its medical referral program in the last fiscal year alone saved the state nearly $400 million in medical costs.
“[We] have been commended for [our] work by two Pennsylvania governors, three secretaries of the Department of Public Welfare, one United States vice president, and one assistant secretary of the U.S. Health and Human Services in charge of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families,” the group said.
The state in its announcement said it would soon begin “soliciting applications for women’s health providers across the state to address women’s health needs” as a replacement for the Real Alternatives program.