Pennsylvania to cut ties with anti-abortion organization on Jan. 1

Reproductive Rights supporter holding a Planned Parenthood sign in front of the Pennsylvania Capitol on Oct. 2, 2021. (Photo: Sean Kitchen)

By Sean Kitchen

December 27, 2023

Pennsylvania will stop funding Real Alternatives, an anti-abortion organization that supports crisis pregnancy centers throughout the commonwealth. Since 1995, they’ve received $135 million in funding from the state.

The commonwealth of Pennsylvania will stop sending money to Real Alternatives, a controversial organization that supports anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers (CPC) on Jan. 1, making Pennsylvania the second state to cut ties with Real Alternatives. 

Michigan cut their funding in 2019, citing their questionable benefits. 

Real Alternatives has had a contract with the state of Pennsylvania since 1995 to provide “abortion alternatives,” and collected more than $135 million in taxpayer dollars from the commonwealth during that time. At least $21 million dollars came from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program and was supposed to support needy children and pregnant women. 

Senate Republicans tried giving the anti-abortion group an extra $2 million in funding during the budget process, raising the total money they would have received from the state Department of Human Services from $7.5 million to $9.5 million. 

Instead of vetoing the funding from the budget, Gov. Josh Shapiro announced after the budget was passed that his administration would simply not renew contracts with Real Alternatives.

Anti-abortion Republicans in the House and Senate were upset with Shapiro’s decision to let the contract expire. Following the decision, Republicans made it sound like funding for the program was being cut when in reality the state decided to look for another vendor to carry out a program for the DHS. 

“Unfortunately, we need to correct false assertions from anti-abortion activists and the state lawmakers who demand millions of dollars flow to them under inadequate oversight,” Tara Murtha, the Director of Strategic Communications with the Women’s Law Project, said in a statement. 

“None of this money funded medical services…The Administration is simply not renewing a contract with Real Alternatives, a controversial organization accused of skimming public dollars while overseeing CPCs, many of which promote misleading claims and target pregnant Pennsylvanians for a program experts consider medical experimentation.”

There are 9 crisis pregnancy centers for every abortion provider in Pennsylvania. They outnumber abortion providers by a 156-to-17 margin. 

“For decades, taxpayer dollars have gone to fund Real Alternatives. My Administration will not continue that pattern – we will ensure women in this Commonwealth receive the reproductive health care they deserve,” Shapiro said in a statement last August.

Author

  • Sean Kitchen

    Sean Kitchen is the Keystone’s political correspondent, based in Harrisburg. Sean is originally from Philadelphia and spent five years working as a writer and researcher for Pennsylvania Spotlight.

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