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Democrats appear keen to defund those pro-life initiatives that leftist militants could not otherwise destroy or intimidate into closure.
Real Alternatives is a non-profit charitable organization that has for decades provided mothers with support and counseling in Pennsylvania and Indiana. It offers pregnant women temporary shelter; childbirth and parenting classes; referrals; abstinence education; adoption information; free pregnancy self-test kits; mentoring; and various other services.
Since Real Alternatives focuses on discussing and providing women with options other than the extermination of innocent life, it has drawn the ire of Democrats in Pennsylvania.
Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro, who prioritized meeting with Planned Parenthood when taking office, made clear last month upon signing the 2023-2024 budget that the Commonwealth would be terminating its contract with Real Alternatives, intimating that protecting a "woman's freedom to choose" necessarily requires unilaterally supporting the choice to end life with the force of government.
The state General Assembly has allocated funding to Real Alternatives since 1995. The initiative was developed under pro-life Democratic Gov. Robert Casey and buttressed by the legislature's pro-life caucus after the state moved to bankroll abortion providers like Planned Parenthood, reported the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Casey had stressed years ahead of Real Alternatives' state funding, "Abortion is unjust in every sense of that term. ... And the Democratic Party ... has been at the forefront of that injustice."
Real Alternatives indicated that it had been funded to the tune of $7.26 million in fiscal year 2022-2023 through the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services. In turn, the non-profit distributed those funds to 83 centers.
Despite having helped over 350,000 women over the past three decades, Shapiro indicated Real Alternatives would lose state funding effective Dec. 31, 2023.
"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," said Shapiro. "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."
Val Arkoosh, the secretary of the PDHS whose experience administering anesthesia to women having abortions reportedly won her favor with some leftists, 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."
Arkoosh, a failed candidate for the U.S. Senate, suggested further that Real Alternatives had not been a good steward of taxpayer resources.
"We believe the governor has been terribly misinformed about the need for the program and its success," Real Alternatives told the Inquirer. "Terminating this program will result in an increase in abortions throughout the commonwealth."
Nearly 60% of the women who come to Real Alternatives considering abortion reportedly choose to preserve the lives of their childresn, and 84% pressured into abortions end up alternatively choosing life.
Real Alternatives told LifeSiteNews, "For 27-plus years, Real Alternatives and its service providers have served close to 350,000 women at 1.9 million office visits. ... At every visit, women are directed to call Real Alternatives with any complaint or concerns about the services they received. There has never been a complaint from the 350,000 women we have served."
Eileen Artysh is the executive director of St. Margaret of Castello Maternity Home, which has received funding via Real Alternatives to provide housing, parental counseling, and other critical services to mothers. Artysh suggested this latest Democrat-led defunding effort will prove ruinous, but won't ultimately dissuade her from continuing to help, reported the Associated Press.
"Until there's that last penny left, I'm in this for the long haul," said Artysh. "And the moms that we help — I can't imagine deserting any of them."
Amy Scheuring, executive director of the Women's Choice Network, similarly noted last month in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that Shapiro's move to defund the non-profit will be to the detriment of women's health and safety.
"Local pregnancy help organizations exist to provide safe and confidential health care to those at risk for abortion before the decision and, if needed, after," wrote Scheuring. "Recently mischaracterized as 'fake centers' and 'pseudo-medical,' these locally operated pregnancy centers are directed by board certified physicians, staffed by RNs and certified ultrasound techs. There's nothing fake about offering women and men free STD testing, free ultrasounds and meaningful support."
Scheuring underscored that this decision, coupled with the promotion of self-administered abortions, serves to limit choice in the state and endanger women.
State Rep. Kate Klunk (R) noted in a recent opinion piece, "These organizations – whether supported by Real Alternatives or not – provide incredible services that stand, in fact, as real alternatives to abortion. Providing those alternatives is not extreme: shutting them off is."
"By ending the nearly 30-year-long state commitment to providing non-abortion pregnancy health services, Gov. Shapiro is choosing extremism and the interests of his campaign donors like Planned Parenthood at the expense of state funding for family support options, which the Commonwealth has provided for decades," continued Klunk. "The pro-abortion fringe has won the day."
"Gov. Shapiro’s actions will jeopardize the health of pregnant women and lives of babies across the commonwealth," stressed state Sen. Doug Mastriano (R). "Pennsylvania women currently have access to counseling and services that provide resources about parenting, adoption and other healthy alternatives to abortions. Gov. Shapiro’s decision amounts to a death sentence for countless Pennsylvania babies."
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Joseph MacKinnon is a staff writer for Blaze News.