AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Texas Legislature approved $100 million over the next two years for the state’s Alternatives to Abortion program.
The program falls under Texas Health and Human Services, and the agency said it promotes childbirth and provides support services to pregnant women and their families, adoptive parents and parents who have experienced miscarriage or the loss of a child.
The money is given to a handful of organizations that funnel the dollars to pregnancy centers across the state. KXAN obtained a breakdown that shows where the money goes.
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.
NBC Nightly News spoke to two lawmakers from both sides of the aisle who are fighting for funding accountability. Rep. Donna Howard said there is a lack of accountability for the funding, and she hasn’t seen metrics that show the Alternatives to Abortion program has “anything to do with adverting abortions.”
John Paul II Life Center receives state funding through the Texas Pregnancy Care Network. However, most of the clothing, diapers and bins of items that line the walls at the center come from donation drives or private donors. The center also provides rental assistance and its Vitae Clinic provides pregnancy care. The center says the goal is to help women and young families who have planned or unplanned pregnancies.
“One thing we try to tell all women is you don’t walk alone, and we care about you, and it doesn’t matter race, religion, socio-economic status … if you need help, we are here to help you,” said Linda Ruf, chief executive officer of John Paull II Life Center.
Ruf said their goal is to encourage women in need to reach out if they need help, specifically for young families with children up to the age of three. Ruf expects the demand to increase, but not solely due to the Supreme Court’s opinion to overturn Roe v. Wade. She also said higher interest rates and rental costs contribute to the demand.
“The need is real and the need is huge,” Ruf said.
Many centers and agencies heavily rely on private donations, but they also rely on state funding under the Alternatives to Abortion program. Ruf said 90-95% of their funding comes from private donors, but she’s also grateful for the portion that comes from the state.