Pennsylvania Governor Defunding Pro-Life Agency

Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro (D) recently made headlines, but not for championing women’s rights as he claims. Instead, he’s taking a step that will likely hurt the group he purports to support. Shapiro announced that by the end of the year, the state will cut off funds to Real Alternatives. The non-profit has provided essential support to pregnant women for decades.

“For decades, taxpayer dollars have gone to fund Real Alternatives. My Administration will not continue that pattern — we will ensure women in this Commonwealth receive the reproductive health care they deserve,” Shapiro said. This statement raises the question: How is eliminating funding for a program offering women more choices considered an enhancement of “reproductive health care?”

Real Alternatives is no fleeting experiment. The non-profit has a track record spanning over 27 years, assisting close to 350,000 women through 1.9 million office visits. The organization was developed under pro-life Democratic Governor Robert Casey and has been continually funded by the Pennsylvania General Assembly since 1995. Offering services such as temporary shelter, parenting classes, and adoption information, Real Alternatives provides women with choices other than abortion.

Yet, Shapiro’s decision essentially revokes these alternatives, ostensibly to protect a “woman’s freedom to choose.” This seems paradoxical. The essence of choice is nullified when the government unilaterally supports only one option. State Sen. Doug Mastriano (R) emphasized that “Gov. Shapiro’s decision amounts to a death sentence for countless Pennsylvania babies.” The non-profit even asserts that Shapiro has been “terribly misinformed about the need for the program and its success.”

Val Arkoosh, the secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (PDHS), called the defunding a “huge step forward,” citing an unsupported claim that Real Alternatives had been a poor steward of taxpayer resources. Yet, the organization’s efficacy speaks volumes. Nearly 60% of women considering abortion reportedly decide to keep their children after visiting Real Alternatives, and 84% of those feeling pressured into abortion also choose life. Those numbers can’t be ignored.

The move to defund Real Alternatives is not just an isolated policy but a telling part of a broader ideological narrative. Amy Scheuring, executive director of the Women’s Choice Network, aptly noted that this decision serves “to limit choice in the state and endanger women.” She warned against labeling such organizations as ‘fake centers,’ highlighting that they offer “safe and confidential health care” under the direction of board-certified physicians.

It’s worth noting who stands to benefit from this funding cut. Shapiro took one of his first meetings as governor with Planned Parenthood, an organization that likely will gain more state funding in the absence of Real Alternatives. This looks less like a decision grounded in enhancing choice and more like favoring the interests of one sector at the expense of another — hardly a victory for freedom.

Shapiro’s move contradicts the rich history of bipartisan support for Real Alternatives in Pennsylvania. As State Rep. Kate Klunk (R) pointed out, “Providing those alternatives is not extreme: shutting them off is.” Unfortunately, the latest decision adds fuel to the suspicion that Gov. Shapiro is not merely a champion of choice but rather an advocate for a singular and extreme point of view.

Here is a local report from a pro-abortion corporate media outlet: