Alternatives to abortion programs in Missouri received a big boost in the budget adopted by the State Legislature for the coming fiscal year. The General Assembly allocated a minimum of $2 million in new funding to be made available to pregnancy resource centers and maternity homes. This appropriation doubles the state resources committed to alternatives to abortion programs.
The funds were included in the $23 billion budget adopted by state legislators last week for fiscal year 2010, which begins on July 1st. The additional appropriation for abortion alternative programs was drawn from federal "stimulus" funds allocated to the the State of Missouri under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The budget already included nearly $2 million for such programs recommended by Governor Jay Nixon.
"These pro-life lawmakers should be applauded for the creative use of federal stimulus dollars to help the most vulnerable citizens of our state--the unborn and their mothers who are under tremendous pressure to have
abortions," says Sam Lee of Campaign Life Missouri. "We are hoping these monies can be used by maternity homes for capital improvements, or by pregnancy help centers for rent and utility payments for clients, or for other uses that will help pregnant women at risk for abortions receive the support they need."
Lee promoted the idea of capturing federal stimulus dollars for the benefit of pro-life agencies. He worked with Kerry Messer of the Missouri Family Network to convince budget committee members and legislative leaders of the merits of the idea.
The Missouri Alternatives to Abortion (ATA) Program was created by the General Assembly in 2007, and was strongly supported by the Blunt administration. The program is designed to assist pregnant women in carrying their children to term or placing them for adoption. The ATA program also assists women in caring for their newborn child for
one year after birth. Operation of the program is administered by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.
To be eligible for the program, a woman must have income at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level.
Funds available in the program may be used for a wide range of services to pregnant women and children, including prenatal care, medical and mental health care, infant care and child care, and food, clothing, and supplies related to pregnancy. The program also offers vital support services for pregnant women including housing, utilities, educational services, job training and placement, transportation, and domestic abuse protection.
The Department of Health and Senior Services is authorized to contract with maternity homes,
pregnancy resource centers, and crisis pregnancy centers to provide eligible services. State law prohibits the grant of funds to any organization that performs abortions, or refers clients for abortions.
There are more than 40 private agencies in Missouri assisting women to make healthy decisions for themselves and their unborn babies, most of them members of the Missouri Alliance for Life. They include pregnancy resource centers such as LifeChoices in Joplin, Rachel House in the Kansas City area, Pregnancy Care Center in the Springfield area, and Thrive PRC in the St. Louis area.
Twenty four member agencies of the Missouri Alliance for Life received alternatives to abortion
funding last year. Pregnancy resource centers served nearly 20,000 clients during 2008. Maternity homes provided housing for 189 women and their children. 42 children were placed for adoption.
Many pregnancy resource centers have adopted a medical model in recent years, and have ultrasound machines on site. Over 2700 ultrasounds were performed at these centers during the last calendar year, and the number keeps growing.
The work of pregnancy resource centers is primarily conducted by vounteers. Over 85% of the workers in these facilities across the state are
volunteers. Please be praying in thanksgiving for the generous hearts of these volunteers who provide hope and the Good News of God's love to numerous women each year.
For more information about the Missouri Alternatives to Abortion Services Program, go to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services website at www.dhss.mo.gov
Once there, locate the Alternatives to Abortion program under the A-Z directory.