By: BeLynn Hollers

Rhonda Kay Moreland
Board member of Texas Alliance for Life and chairman of the board of directors of BirthChoice Dallas Pregnancy Center

Q1: I think the very first thing that I want every woman to know is that I come from a place of love and non-judgment. And that I’m here to have a conversation and I’m trying to empower women, to understand what I’ve learned about what I understand is the truth of life. And I think that there’s no judgement to anybody who’s had an abortion. We all have a story, we all have a past, but our past doesn’t define us. And so I’m in the movement as much for the women as I am for the babies.

Q2: If I could do something with somebody who thinks opposite than me on the abortion issue, it would be connecting women towards resources for help. I think that is probably a great starting point, is just connecting women with assistance in all aspects of their life.

By: Anna North

That’s already happening. “If at some point Roe v. Wade is overturned, we’re going to have to step up and fund places like these centers to be able to reach out to all those women who are now going, ‘I need help,’” Arkansas state Rep. Cindy Crawford, a Republican, told the Associated Press in March. Edmonds, the Louisiana representative, is backing a bill that would earmark $1 million from the state budget to help the centers build an online service network.

That’s on top of money that the centers already get from Louisiana and other states around the country as part of “alternatives to abortion” programs, which have been around since the 1990s and have grown in recent years. The largest, in Texas, received $100 million over two years in the latest budget cycle, and abortion opponents hope to see that grow further. “We always are working toward the increase in funding for the alternatives to abortion program,” said Amy O’Donnell, director of communications for the group Texas Alliance for Life.

“Our goal is to help women remove obstacles that they may face in going through an unplanned pregnancy so that they can successfully give birth to the baby and then keep that baby with support or place that baby for adoption, if that’s their choice,” O’Donnell said. “With that, we recognize that they’re going to need support both before and after birth.”

Critics say the anti-abortion safety net … isn’t one
Pregnancy resource centers do offer some forms of support to the people who visit them. In a small study published in 2020, Kimport found that women who visited the centers got things like baby clothes and prenatal vitamins, as well as services like pregnancy tests. Especially for low-income people, the centers can fill some of the gaps in states where more conventional social services, from Medicaid to food stamps, have been cut to the bone.

However, researchers and reproductive rights advocates have deep concerns about the idea that pregnancy resource centers could step in to become a substitute for the right to an abortion.

At the most basic level, the centers do not provide abortion, which is something a lot of people want. Reproductive rights groups argue that support during an unplanned pregnancy is no substitute for the choice of whether to carry that pregnancy to term. “There’s nothing that a crisis pregnancy center can offer that is equal to getting an abortion,” said Morgan Moone, strategic data and advocacy manager for the New Orleans-based Reproductive Justice Action Collective (ReJAC). “Abortion is providing opportunity; it’s providing autonomy over an individual’s body.”

People who are seeking abortion may not be interested in goods and services to help them carry the pregnancy to term instead. Kimport’s research suggests that pregnancy resource centers are not especially popular. During a two-year period of recruiting study participants at prenatal clinics, she and her team were able to find only 21 people who had been to such a center and were willing to talk about the experience (and only a handful who had visited one but didn’t want to talk).

The majority of people who had visited the centers were not considering abortion; they just needed assistance continuing a wanted pregnancy. After Texas passed the restrictive abortion law SB 8, abortions among Texans fell by only about 10 percent, suggesting that most people in the state who wanted abortions found a way to get them — they did not visit a pregnancy center for support in giving birth and raising a child.

Another concern is the actual services that pregnancy resource centers provide. Research from the University of Georgia has found that while the centers sometimes present themselves as medical providers and offer services like ultrasounds, they also often spread misinformation about abortion, such as the false claim that it causes breast cancer. The centers often are not staffed by medical personnel. One 2007 study conducted by the NARAL ProChoice Maryland Fund found that just 18 percent of Maryland centers had staff with medical training. In addition, anti-abortion centers may spread misinformation about sexually transmitted infections and contraception, or provide no information at all.

“That’s harmful,” said Obiekea, of the Black Women for Wellness Action Project. “This is information about your health.”

The centers are also not subject to the same ethical and privacy regulations that govern medical clinics. The centers can collect and store data on clients’ sexual and reproductive history, test results, ultrasounds, and more, according to Time. That data could then be turned over to law enforcement to sue or prosecute abortion providers or even pregnant people themselves.

Most pregnancy resource centers remain affiliated with churches or other Christian groups, and Christian religious messages are typically part of their counseling. Anti-abortion advocates say the centers are still open to all, regardless of religion: “There are some who may look for an open-door opportunity to share their Christian views, but they are also very happy to navigate around that,” O’Donnell said. According to Kimport, however, while people don’t have to be Christian to visit a center, hearing the religious messages is typically “not optional.”

By: BY CAROLINE VANDERGRIFF

“Violence is not a solution to violence, and we consider abortion to very much be a violent act,” said Amy O’Donnell, communications director for Texas Alliance for Life.

O’Donnell pointed to the state’s Alternatives to Abortion program, which is allotted more than $100 million to crisis pregnancy centers, maternity homes, and adoption agencies, as a resource to help women experiencing domestic violence.

“As imperfect as our systems are, the state of Texas does have a responsibility, as well as the pro-life movement, to do everything possible to help any woman in a domestic violence situation or a rape/incest situation and her unborn child to get out of any abusive situations and move forward and support them in choosing life,” O’Donnell said.

Advocates want victims to know the recent Supreme Court ruling doesn’t change the fact that they still have options.

“Survivors shouldn’t believe the lie that help is not available to them, because it is,” Shetter said.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline is 800-799-7233. Those looking for help can also call or text the Genesis Women’s Shelter hotline at 214-946-4357. You can reach One Safe Place at 817-916-4323.

By: Ali Linan

For Joe Pojman, executive director of Texas Alliance for Life, the decision could not come soon enough.

“We are ecstatic,” he said in a statement following the news.

With this win under their belt, Pojman said the anti-abortion movement will transition into a new phase – the “pro-life movement 2.0,” as he called it.

Rebecca Parma, senior legislative associate with Texas Right to Life, said the fight is not over in their view.

“This is not the end of the story; it’s really just the end of a chapter. And we’re moving into a new chapter in the pro-life movement,” she said.

Pojman said that although they anticipate plenty of lawsuits about the court decision, his organization will begin to concentrate greater effort “in providing compassionate alternatives to women with unplanned pregnancies.”

In that, Pojman said his group will continue to push for funding of the state’s Alternatives to Abortion program, to which state legislators have appropriated $100 million. The program provides counseling, material assistance and social services for up to three years after birth. The state budget accounts for helping about 150,000 women each year, Pojman said.

While the program is funded at the whims of the state Legislature, Pojman said he believes there is enough support for the program that he does not see it ending any time in the near future. He added that his organization will continue to monitor the results of the program.

“We have a goal of creating a society in Texas which truly is compassionate for women with unplanned pregnancies so that no woman seeks to have an abortion,” Pojman said. “We want women to have all the resources they need to successfully carry their babies to term, give birth to the babies, (then) keep the babies or place the babies for adoption and would feel 100% at peace with those options.”

Current law, including the state’s pre-Roe statutes and so-called “trigger law” passed last year, criminalizes the act of performing an abortion or aiding someone in receiving an abortion through threats of heavy fines, litigation and jail time. This includes providing abortion pills, or any other procedure or method used in the completion an abortion, but it stops short of criminalizing mothers. There is some differing interpretation about when each of these laws will take effect.

Both Pojman and Parma said their organizations are firmly against criminalizing mothers.

By: Jennifer Sanders

In the 2021 fiscal year, the following contracted providers were awarded money to administer the program:

Texas Pregnancy Care Network – $36,587,141.78
Human Coalition – $8,765,185.34
Austin LifeCare – $750,000
Longview Wellness Center – $54,000

“That was a 25% increase from the 86th Legislative session to the 87th Legislative session,” said Amy O’Donnell, director of communications for Texas Alliance for Life.

KXAN asked the Texas Alliance for Life, a statewide nonprofit organization, if funding for the organization would meet a possible increase in demand some providers said they are seeing. Even as the need grows, O’Donnell thinks the funding allocated over the next two years will help over 200 pregnancy care centers in the state.

“Those centers see 150,000 women a year. So that compares well, to the roughly 55,000 abortions that we’ve seen take place in Texas per year. They are well able to meet the needs through the centers,” O’Donnell said.

By: KHOU 11 Staff

Many hope things don’t stop here and the state makes sure laws are fully enforced. Many also hope that abortion alternative programs are expanded at hundreds of help centers across the state.

“We know that these pregnancy centers have compassionately trained staff and volunteers who are ready to stand with you, walk out pregnancy with you, support you as you have your baby and either choose to keep it – and in this case they’ll assist with your needs up to three years after birth – as well for the consideration of placement for adoption,” said Amy O’Donnell with Texas Alliance For Life.

The Texas Health and Human Services Department has an entire website dedicated to the Alternatives to Abortion Program, which features contact information for contracted service providers.