By Maria Gallagher, Legislative Director firstname.lastname@example.org
The young woman stands at a crossroads between compassion and cold-heartedness. Family and friends have abandoned her, believing that her pregnancy is a problem to “be gotten rid of.” And yet, a caring stranger is willing to support both the woman and her baby, equipping her with the tools that will help her succeed at motherhood, college, relationships, and the rest of the elements of her life.
The support system she finds at Pennsylvania’s Alternatives to Abortion program is kind-hearted, clear-thinking, and loving. The program is administered by Real Alternatives, Inc. and, over the past two decades, has helped more than 200,000 women and their families to find solace, hope, and encouragement for the future.
As writer Frederica Matthews-Green stated so eloquently, “They (Women have) said if I’d only had one person to stand by me, and it could have been a stranger, but they’d say I needed somebody to be a sister to me, I needed someone to be a friend . . . I would have had that baby. And, that’s what you do in maternity homes and crisis pregnancy centers and in offering adoption services. You are that friend . . .”
The statewide network of nearly 100 non-profit agencies and close to 350 counselors reaches out to women of all backgrounds and walks of life with services that are 100 percent free. The success stories are inspiring…women finishing their GED’s and obtaining gainful employment…women leaving dangerous abusive relationships…women empowered to become effective decision-makers for themselves and their families.
As Kellyanne Conway, now a counselor to the President, once said, “Your trophy does not sit on a shelf . . .the trophy for your hard work plays on a swing, moves a tassel during a graduation ceremony, and yes even one day experiences the joy of motherhood.”
One incredible aspect to Real Alternatives is the cost savings it provides for taxpayers. For instance, in fiscal year 2015-16, the taxpayer savings amounted to an estimated $317 million because more than 15,000 clients were receiving proper prenatal care. Add to that a tax savings of $106 million because of clients ensuring that their children received proper immunizations.
Pennsylvania’s abortion totals are now at the lowest level recorded since the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade which legalized abortion on demand. Part of that success story has to be attributed to the milestones achieved by Real Alternatives.
The award-winning program has had a ripple effect throughout the country. As Real Alternatives President & CEO Kevin Bagatta stated, “If it wasn’t for the keystone state – 12 states wouldn’t have programs helping women and saving babies.”
As Governor of Indiana, current Vice President Mike Pence had this to say about Real Alternatives’ impact on the Hoosier state: “Real Alternatives provides positive, life-affirming services for Hoosier women and families. It is important to not only ensure that pregnant women receive proper prenatal care, but also the emotional and physical support they need for a healthy pregnancy. Real Alternatives helps ensure that women in need are connected with all the community and social services resources available to them to support them both during and after their pregnancy.”
Real Alternatives provides an important safety net to women and their families as they face the challenge of an unexpected pregnancy. Born in the Keystone State, it is an idea which should bloom and flourish throughout the U.S., according to a bipartisan group of Pennsylvania leaders.
“Hopefully, one day, there will be programs like Real Alternatives helping women and their children in all fifty states,” said Pennsylvania Senate President Pro Tempore Joseph Scarnati.
“There are many important lines in the state budget. But there are not many lines that you can point to and say that every dollar we put into the program is saving lives. Real Alternatives and the work you do is important, and we are saving lives.”
For more information about Real Alternatives’ life-saving and life-changing program, visit www.realalternatives.org .