Monday, July 5, 2010

Federal government starts $25M Pregnancy Assistance Fund

This is pretty interesting. The Health and Human Services Department announced Friday that it will start "accepting applications for the Pregnancy Assistance Fund." What, you might wonder, is the Pregnancy Assistance Fund? Pretty much just what it sounds like: it's a $25 million grant program that, according to HHS' press release, would "provide pregnant and parenting teens and women a seamless network of supportive services to help them complete high school or postsecondary degrees and gain access to health care, child care, family housing, and other critical support.  In addition, states can use the funds to combat violence against pregnant women." The program will offer the $25M yearly through 2019.

I think trying to support pregnant and parenting teens and women is a fantastic goal, one I fully support. I also think this language in the press release is telling (emphasis mine): "States can use funding from the Pregnancy Assistance Fund to work with a wide range of stakeholders to provide needed services to pregnant teens and women who have decided to carry their pregnancies to term and to those who are parenting."

Pair that with this information from the Guttmacher Institute (emphasis mine): "The reasons women give for having an abortion underscore their understanding of the responsibilities of parenthood and family life. Three-fourths of women cite concern for or responsibility to other individuals; three-fourths say they cannot afford a child; three-fourths say that having a baby would interfere with work, school or the ability to care for dependents; and half say they do not want to be a single parent or are having problems with their husband or partner.

Then it becomes clear, to me at least, how this all fits in. Decreasing the number of abortions in the United States is, I think, a worthy goal, so long as women are always able to make the choice for themselves. If there are obstacles standing in the way of women keeping wanted pregnancies (and there are), such as finances, work, school, etc., then absolutely we should be trying to figure out ways to help these women and their children. (Including after the women give birth, which this program seems to allow for.) Obviously, no woman should be pressured into giving birth even if such assistance is available to them. (And really, if decreasing abortions is an actual goal, it has to start with comprehensive sex education and widely available contraceptives. But this is a good step, too.)

My only real gripe with this program is the amount of funding. Twenty-five million dollars isn't a whole lot, especially when you consider how this money is probably going to be distributed. According to the press release): "It is anticipated that up to 25 grants in the amounts of $500,000 - $2,000,000 per year will be awarded." I know some organizations can do a lot with those amounts, and I'm sure many will put this money to good use. I just wish more funds, and more than 25 grants, would be available.

To read more about the grant or get application information, go here.

Other reading:
  • CNN: "White House ties new pregnancy assistance fund to 'common ground' abortion plan."
  • Care2: "How Do We Prevent Abortion? Obama Thinks One Way Is To Help Pregnant Women."
  • MSNBC: "Moms to get more care under new health law" (this is a quick overview of some of the changes coming under the new health-care overhaul that deal with pregnant women and women who've just given birth)

1 comment:

thiswomansworld said...

How is this, as the article notes, "a way to find common ground on abortion?"

Then there is mention of how this will provide needed assistance to "vulnerable" (scare quotes mine) teens and women. Vulnerable seems like a euphemism for "might otherwise have an abortion."

I'm all for supporting families - subsidized or public daycare, flextime, parental leave, etc. I get a bad taste in my mouth when I see these types of programs being offered up in an effort to find "common ground" on abortion. There is no common ground, there is access to abortion, or there is not. And no amount of pre-natal, post partum, family support is going to change that.

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