Recently Texas Right to Life had the opportunity to recognize the lifesaving work of the Texas Pregnancy Care Network (TPCN). TPCN offers women in crisis pregnancies life-affirming options throughout the state. The network consists of social service providers including adoption agencies, maternity homes, and pregnancy centers. They are funded in part by Texas taxpayers through the Alternatives to Abortion program in the Texas state budget.
Last week, TPCN held their annual provider banquet and awards ceremony in Austin. Representatives from pregnancy resource centers and Pro-Life groups gathered to recognize the tremendous work that ensures Texas is one of the most Pro-Life states in the country. There was cause for celebration, as this year TPCN boasts 114 providers, more than any other year since the program was founded in 2005.
Although Governor Greg Abbott was unable to attend, a member of his staff, Ben Taylor, read a letter from the governor and first lady. The Abbotts have been outspoken advocates for the program. In his letter, Governor Abbott reminded attendees that “Texas is at the forefront of upholding the sanctity and dignity of human life.” The governor shared his personal commitment to the Alternatives to Abortion program: He and his wife are adoptive parents. He thanked the attendees for their dedicated work. He said, “As TPCN providers know, adoption saves lives and gives families new opportunities to share their love.”
Representative Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) spoke at the banquet about the fight to improve funding for this lifesaving network. Pro-Life stalwarts in the Texas Legislature succeeded last session by greatly increasing funding to the Alternatives to Abortion program. In 2015, the Texas House increased funding to $18 million, a 78 percent increase. The battle was not an easy one. Representative Phelan, who serves on the House Appropriations Committee, has seen the struggle firsthand. Anti-Life legislators relentlessly undermine the work of TPCN. The abortion industry and their supporters fear giving women the information to make an informed choice and access to life-affirming alternatives to abortion.
The executive director of TPCN, John McNamara, awarded several providers in the program for outstanding work in 2016. One of the providers, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, won an award after seeing a 163% increase in the number of services and clients. They are just one of the many outstanding providers recognized. McNamara has been instrumental in bringing more providers into the network, a time-consuming process with rigorous standards. As more providers join TPCN, more women will be able to easily find the support they need in crisis situations. The results demonstrate that progress has been made in Texas.
As Texas Right to Life prepares for the next legislative session, we stand with the elected officials committing to supporting TPCN. Governor Abbott has already indicated that funding to the Alternatives to Abortion program should not be decreased, even though the budget next session will be a difficult one due to the struggling economy. More than preserving state resource levels, the Texas Legislature must prioritize increasing funding to the programs of TPCN. The growth and success witnessed in 2016 shows just how far the program has come. Increased appropriations will allow more qualified pregnancy resource centers, adoption agencies, and maternity homes to receive state funding for the work they already do.
In 2017, Texas Right to Life will work with our Pro-Life legislators to ensure that funding to the Alternatives to Abortion program increases, so that more lives are saved in Texas.