The Shapiro Administration announced on Thursday that it will terminate contracts with Real Alternatives, an anti-abortion nonprofit that has collected over $135 million over three decades from taxpayers and distributed those funds to crisis pregnancy centers.
Reproductive healthcare advocates are celebrating a key victory as Gov. Josh Shapiro and Department of Human Services Secretary Val Arkoosh announced on Thursday that they are cutting ties with Real Alternatives, an organization that supports anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers (CPC) throughout the commonwealth, and will not renew the state’s contract with the center once it expires at the end of the year.
“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.
“The Shapiro Administration is taking a huge step forward today by ending the Real Alternatives contract after 30 years. Every woman seeking reproductive health care has the right to unbiased, medically accurate care and counsel,” said Arkoosh.
Real Alternatives has had a contract with the state of Pennsylvania since 1995 and has collected over $135 million in taxpayer dollars, with at least $21 million coming from funds that were supposed to support children and pregnant women. These funds have instead gone to Real Alternatives, which has funneled them to CPCs that spread medical misinformation and dissuade women from seeking abortion or other forms of reproductive healthcare.
A portion of that funding also went to pay exorbitant six-figure salaries for the executives at Real Alternatives. According to their latest tax filing, the organization’s executive pay ranged from $132,668 to $309,645, costing taxpayers close to $667,000.
“For 30 years, crisis pregnancy centers preyed on the most vulnerable Pennsylvanians with deception and misinformation – but that era is ending. These facilities harmed us over and over again, and taxpayers footed the bill,” Signe Espinoza, the Executive Director of Planned Parenthood PA Advocate, said in a statement.
Crisis pregnancy centers outnumber abortion providers in Pennsylvania by a 156 to 17 margin. Senate Republicans included a $2 million boost in funding for CPCs in the state budget over Democratic opposition, bringing their total appropriations to over $9 million.
Pennsylvania will become the second state to defund Real Alternatives. As reported by Michigan Advance, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer cut their funding in 2019 citing their questionable benefits.
“The Shapiro Administration has pushed Pennsylvania into the right side of history by announcing the termination of funding to Real Alternatives,” said Tara Murtha, Women’s Law Project director of strategic communications.
“The people of Pennsylvania, medical experts, reproductive health advocates, and government accountability watchdogs who have been demanding accountability have been heard today,” Murtha added. “We are grateful to the Shapiro Administration for taking bold action to protect our health and privacy.”