June 25, 2014 — The Michigan Legislature "hasn't shown much interest in the state's shockingly high rate of unplanned pregnancy, and infant and maternal death," but it recently "approved an $800,000 contract in the 2014-15 budget 'to promote childbirth,' alternatives to abortion and abstinence education at crisis pregnancy centers," Detroit News columnist Laura Berman writes.
According to Berman, the "no-bid contract goes solely to Real Alternatives Inc., a Pennsylvania nonprofit that helps anti-abortion, mostly faith-based centers comply with separation of church and state regulations and receive government funding." The organization aims to partner with "Michigan pregnancy centers that oppose abortion and the use of birth control pills and that counsel women to choose adoption or birth in unplanned pregnancies," she writes, explaining that the state funds are supposed to flow through Real Alternatives to reimburse the centers "for diapers, baby furniture and counseling services."
However, after Real Alternatives received a $700,000 contract from the state last year, it "failed to see a single client or sign up one Michigan provider during the first eight months," Berman continues. The new $800,000 contract is "roughly equal to state spending for pregnancy prevention and family planning services in 2014-15," and other family planning programs are set to expire at the end of the month.
Berman notes, "Prayers, propaganda and a year's supply of diapers will not pay child care costs or medical bills," adding that "family planning experts say the $800,000 appropriation serves political ends, not public health needs" (Berman, Detroit News, 6/23).