In the debate ignited by the Texas Heartbeat Act, abortion activists are trotting out the ludicrous accusation that pro-lifers only care about children prior to birth, an old tried and true trope that gets traction amongst those who desperately want to believe that the feticide enthusiasts are the good guys. But as I pointed out at the time, they are ignoring the fact that this year, Texas also put $100 million into the Texas Alternatives to Abortion fund. Newsweek has the details:
Supporters of legal abortion have long claimed that they are not pro-abortion, but “pro-choice.” On its face, the label suggests equal support for all options presented to a pregnant mother, including parenting and adoption. Yet the debate surrounding the Texas law has featured unyielding pro-choice opposition to a program created to help Texas women level the socioeconomic playing field and choose life for their unborn child, regardless of their age, marital status or employment status. What’s more, Texas Democrats actively sought to defund or even eliminate the program—called the Texas Alternatives to Abortion, or “A2A”—long before the passage of the Heartbeat Bill.
Begun in 2006, A2A started as a modest, $4 million federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) initiative. The Texas legislature has gradually increased its funding each year, expanding available dollars to $100 million in 2021. Program services are now largely coordinated through the Texas Pregnancy Care Network, a nonprofit organization that was the first in the state to earn the “Seal of Excellence” distinction from the national, nonpartisan Standards for Excellence Institute. In addition to the audits performed by Standards for Excellence, the Texas Pregnancy Care Network also undergoes additional scrutiny and annual audits by TANF, as well as with the Texas Department of Health and Human Services.
The Alternatives to Abortion program was not created to be a Medicaid-based health care service. Rather, its primary objective is to provide comprehensive “wraparound” social services to expectant and parenting women, allowing approved agencies to accompany a pregnant mother and her child until that child reaches age three—though some agencies are leveraging private donations to extend that care until age five, when children typically enter kindergarten. Job training and placement, financial independence and budget instruction, life skills, adoption counseling, stress management, child development classes, housing, car seats, diapers, clothing and strollers are all covered by A2A.
Although faith-based organizations—Catholic Charities is among the approved agencies—are not precluded from applying for or participating in A2A, religious proselytizing by any contracting agency is not permitted, and conversations that include faith or religion are only to be engaged in at the initiation of the woman. Religious materials of any kind, from any denomination, are only to be provided or offered at a client’s specific request.
Testimonials from women who have been assisted by A2A are numerous. The John Paul II Life Center in Austin, Texas, an A2A funding recipient, counts more than 2,400 women as its beneficiaries, including “Claire,” who praised the Center’s personal, hands-on help:
My husband got deported to Mexico, I was pregnant with my fourth child, got robbed, and moved three times to find a safe and affordable apartment. I felt hopeless and didn’t want to struggle any longer, abortion was my answer…but JPII’s client advocates changed that. They walked with me every step of the way and provided lots of assistance. Thank you so much, JPII!
And “Sarah,” whose unborn daughter was diagnosed in utero with a serious illness, making her especially vulnerable to pressure to terminate her pregnancy, explained,
I was told I needed to have an abortion because my baby’s organs were growing outside of her body. JPII’s doctors gave me hope and performed fetal surgery. I now have a healthy 3-year-old baby girl!
The stories of women like Claire and Sarah, who are happy with the outcome of their pregnancies and the assistance provided to them through Texas Alternatives, would likely shock The Austin Chronicle, a news outlet which recently referred to life-affirming pregnancy centers as “grifters.” The paper called A2A allocations a reflection of the “warped priorities” of the legislature.
Opponents of pregnancy centers and charitable agencies benefitting from state funding have even created an alternate website using a domain name deceptively close to the one used by the Texas Pregnancy Care Network. The site is an apparent attempt to mislead and confuse women about the types of resources available to them through the A2A, and to disparage the work of the agencies participating in the program (which now number more than 200).
Abortion activists couldn’t care less about helping women, because abortion is where all the money is made—which is why they oppose alternatives to it. Exhibit A is Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who promised to defund crisis pregnancy centres in Canada in case they don’t share his enthusiasm for abortion.
The pro-life movement is there for women and children—and they do it for love, not money.