Minnesota’s recently-passed budget is ending a program which has provided millions of dollars in aid to pregnancy resource centers (PRCs) since 2005.
Lawmakers in both the House and the Senate passed the budget on May 22, and are now awaiting its signature by Governor Tim Walz. Within the bill is the repeal of Positive Alternatives, a grant program under the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) for “life-affirming organizations offering support to pregnant women.” According to Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, the program offered $3.357 million annually to pregnancy resource centers around the state.
Pregnancy resource centers have increasingly come under attack, both in Minnesota and around the nation. Last August, state Attorney General Keith Ellison issued a “consumer warning” against PRCs, claiming that they are “private organizations that seek to prevent people from accessing abortion care as well as contraceptives.”
In January, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz signaled a possible repeal of the program when he told Minnesota Public Radio that the grant recipients provided “misinformation” to pregnant women who “deserve to have the whole picture.”
This mindset appeared to be the driving force behind the program’s appeal. “MDH recognizes the importance of supporting comprehensive and accurate reproductive information and health care and in supporting families with young children to thrive. Repeal of this section will end a program that does not support this goal,” an MDH spokesperson told the National Catholic Register.
While abortion advocates vilify PRCs because they do not offer abortion, what they do offer women and families is countless services that make it possible for them to choose life, including pregnancy testing, ultrasounds, maternity and baby items, formula, diapers, prenatal care, counseling, financial assistance, housing assistance, and much more. Many even have licensed medical professionals on staff. A report published by the Charlotte Lozier Institute found that these centers have saved over 800,000 lives in five years by providing practical help and resources.
“It’s going to be devastating to some of our metro affiliates that provide so much material support and to the women who get it,” Vaunae Hansel, president of Elevate Life, an affiliate of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis that has 35 crisis-pregnancy-center affiliates in Minnesota, told the Register of the program’s repeal. “And it’s only going to affect the poorest neighborhoods, so that’s what I’m really worried about. … We should be expanding our support to our high-risk, low-income population, not cutting it off.”
Tami Kocher, executive director of New Life Family Services in Minneapolis, Minnesota, recently testified before Congress on the claim that centers like hers are “fake clinics.”
“We do not lie to women,” Kocher said. “We are very clear about the services we provide and what we don’t provide.”
“I think it’s very ironic that we are called fake clinics when the abortion clinics in our area do not believe that. We receive referrals from abortion clinics in our area for health services. They refer their patients to us,” she went on. “Why would they do that if we were truly a fake clinic?”