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Pennsylvania’s Governor Moves to End Contract with Real Alternatives

August 14, 2023

By Nadia Smith


For nearly three decades, the Pregnancy and Parenting Support Services program for the state of Pennsylvania, administered by the nonprofit Real Alternatives, has provided other options to abortion to more than 350,000 pregnant and single-parenting women in need of compassionate and comprehensive care.

All that may be slated to change with the announcement that Governor Josh Shapiro is planning to end the contract with Real Alternatives on Dec. 31st, 2023, which means this award-winning program will no longer exist. Real Alternatives relied on $7.263 million from the PA Department of Human Services last year to aid these women and their children. This year that funding was expected to increase.

The program was initially established 27 years ago by former Democrat Gov. Bob Casey Sr. to support women in crisis pregnancy who wanted to keep their unborn babies. To accomplish this, Real Alternatives developed a network of pregnancy support centers, social services agencies, adoption agencies and maternity homes throughout Pennsylvania that could meet the need. As a result, pregnant women and single-parenting women with their children receive such services as free counseling, temporary shelter, prenatal care, baby supplies and other related services that empower women to protect their reproductive health, avoid crisis pregnancies, choose childbirth rather than abortion, receive adoption education, and improve parenting skills. Every year since the program began, funding has been approved by state lawmakers from both parties.

“Without this support, these women become vulnerable to the voices trying to entice them to abort their unborn children,” said Deacon Bruno Schettini, M.D., CMA’s Pennsylvania State Director.

Two-thirds of women seeking abortions say they would choose to keep their unborn babies if they had better support according to a new peer-reviewed study in the medical science journal Cureus. It was a similar finding that led to the program in the first place ––to meet the need of pregnant mothers struggling to obtain the resources they needed for themselves and their unborn babies, namely, women who wanted a “choice” other than abortion.

Real Alternatives’ President Kevin Bagatta concurred with the study’s conclusion from the nonprofit’s own statistics.

“Approximately 60% of women who come to our program considering an abortion choose to bring their baby to term because of the support we provide. Also, 84% of women who are pressured to abort by others but come to us, choose to bring their baby to term because of the support we provide them,” he said. “The services that this program provides to the women of Pennsylvania are crucial. If a woman decides she does not want to have an abortion, this is the only statewide program established to support and empower her choice for life.”

Deacon Schettini encourages members to contact the Pennsylvania state senators and representatives through a campaign by the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference to get full funding restored.

Real Alternatives expressed shock by the governor’s decision.

“We believe the governor has been terribly misinformed about the need for the program and its success. Real Alternatives and the program have been commended for its 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 (TANF) funding,” the nonprofit said in a statement. “In fact, the program has been a model for the nation.” Real Alternatives has helped 14 other states develop similar programs giving women real choices.

Further information about Real Alternatives and the program can be found here.