The state of Texas will provide an additional $20 million to the Alternatives to Abortion program (A2A) for the 2018-2019 biennium. The hard-won Pro-Life budget victory ensures that the successful program will continue to grow. A2A is a life-affirming network of adoption agencies, maternity homes, and pregnancy centers. The state-wide network of contracted providers offers resources and support to pregnant and new parents.
Texas Right to Life has spearheaded efforts for several sessions to allocate more resources for the underfunded program, which began in 2006. In 2015, Texas Right to Life worked with Representative Dade Phelan (R- Beaumont) and other Pro-Life stalwarts in the House to increase funding to $18 million, a 78 percent increase. In the 2017 session of the Texas Legislature, Texas Right to Life worked closely with Representatives Matt Krause, Mike Lang, Mike Schofield, and Matt Shaheen to craft amendments that could be offered on the House floor to increase funding again. Using this strategy, Pro-Life champions in the House succeeded in passing a much-needed increase in the A2A budget, raising the total to $38.3 million.
Despite the addition of this important Pro-Life budget item, anti-Life Democrats and moderate Republicans temporarily succeeded in removing the funding in the Conference Committee. Texas Right to Life inspired grassroots activists, as well as Pro-Life legislators and leaders in the Capitol. Legislators were able to restore the Pro-Life provisions before the end of the session. Even in a state like Texas that values Life, the Pro-Life budget victory was hard-won, and the ultimate fate of A2A funding was undecided until the final days of the session.
Although some news sources describe the program as “controversial,” the goal of A2A should be one on which all Texans can see eye to eye. The Alternatives to Abortion program exists to connect mothers and families who want to choose Life for their preborn children with the resources to do so. Too often, an abortion decision arises from the perception that there is no other choice. In fact, 64% of post-abortive women report feeling pressured into an abortion decision and 84% say they did not receive adequate counseling before an abortion.
By offering women in a crisis pregnancy counseling services, educational opportunities, and basic necessities such as car seats and formula, A2A supports mothers in a life-affirming decision that they otherwise might not have been able to make. Although anti-Life politicians and lobbyists claim to support women, they only offer mothers in crisis one option: abortion. Connecting pregnant women with real resources instead of sending them to the predatory abortion industry ensures that they can freely choose Life for their preborn children instead of facing coercion to end the Life of a preborn child.
Abortion activists also claim A2A is “religiously motivated” and therefore should be denied taxpayer funding. The Texas Pregnancy Care Network (TPCN) oversees A2A, and participants must go through a rigorous vetting process to be part of the program. TPCN does not reimburse contractors for any services related to religious counseling and only funds the resources that go directly to supporting the emotional and material needs of pregnant and new parents.
With the increased funding, A2A will offer services to Texas families through the child’s third birthday, and increase efforts to connect mothers with social services and job training and placement. There is also a great need to expand A2A in underserved areas of the state, so that all Texas families have access to the resources they need to choose Life.