Arkansas lawmakers voted to appropriate $1 million in grants to fund pregnancy resource centers in the state. The measure passed the House with a 75-19 vote on March 3, one day after passing the Senate.
“If we are going to be the most pro-life state in the union, we have to be prepared when those mothers come to a facility and they need help,” said Rep. Robin Lundstrum.
Pregnancy resource centers provide real help to women who are facing unplanned pregnancies. They offer baby supplies like formula, diapers, wipes, toys, books, furniture, and clothes, as well as help for parents who need things like counseling or local assistance. One report has found that centers like these served nearly 2 million people in 2019. The centers also provide women real facts about the risks of abortion, and abortion alternatives like adoption, which they are unlikely to receive from an abortion facility.
The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported that some pro-life legislators were against the funding, simply because they are afraid of “strings” being attached to the government money later down the road. “We are not always going to be here, and I promise you at some point strings are going to be attached to this money,” said Rep. Jim Wooten. “This is a ministry. This is an outreach.”
But Rep. Lundstrom had on hand a list of pregnancy resource centers that do want money. “All these pregnancy centers said, yes, we could use this one-time funding to help new mothers with diapers, resources, and these are people all over the state,” she said. “If we are going to be pro-life, we are going to have to be there on the other side of that life helping them.”
Lundstrom pointed out that there was no obligation for any of the pregnancy resource centers to accept money, but it would be there if they need it. She also iterated that the state is offering a one-time funding option, which gives these centers and the state a chance to see how it works out. “If they are successful, they may choose to come back,” she said. “Many of these have survived on a dime and made a dollar, so let’s see what they can do. They will have to work with the funds that they are given and see how they do. It’s a process.”
Other legislators also spoke in favor of the funding. “What if this money, for this one year, they were able to buy an ultrasound machine and show them the life of that baby, or if they could take care of their facility that needed some dressing? What if one year of funding helped save babies?” said Rep. Cindy Crawford.
According to this listing, there are at least 32 pregnancy resource centers in the state. The bill now heads to Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s desk for his signature.
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