Thursday, October 12, 2006

Minnesota Positive Alternatives Program Helping Women Avoid Abortions

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When a young woman is pregnant and has difficulties handling or paying for the kinds of things she needs during and after a pregnancy, abortion isn't a solution for her. State lawmakers recognized that and started a program to help women with unexpected pregnancy by providing grants to pregnancy centers and it appears to be working.

When young, pregnant Minneapolis resident Jayme Bakkenstuen's drivers license was suspended because of an unpaid ticket, she was worried about getting to her doctor's appointment. She also couldn't afford to purchase new baby items for after her baby's birth.

But Nancy Kiolbasa, director of St. Croix Valley Life Care, came to the rescue. She paid for the ticket and gave her a voucher to buy a new crib. "We're trying to reduce the stress in her life," Kiolbasa told McClatchy Newspapers. She told Bakkenstuen: "I don't want the (new) baby to sink your little boat." The center is able to help because of a $266,600 grant from the state through its new Positive Alternatives program.

Pennsylvania and Texas have similar programs, which rework the state's family planning funding and provides funds for crisis pregnancy centers to help women who may be considering an abortion or who might have one because of financial or other pressures.

The Minnesota program includes $15 million in state funding and about $5 million in grants to crisis pregnancy centers around the state. The goal is to reduce the 13,362 abortions that took place in the state last year.

Scott Fischbach, executive director of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, which proposed the program, says he thinks it's working well. "When a woman is facing a crisis pregnancy -- a pregnancy that possibly won't be carried to term -- they need to know that there is help," he told McClatchy. When women get help, they're less likely to have an abortion -- "And that's our goal."

But Connie Perpich, the chief lobbyist of Planned Parenthood's Minnesota chapter, told McClatchy the program is "an attempt to find common ground" but her group isn't happy that pregnancy centers -- the abortion business' prime competition -- get state funding.

"We do not support tax dollars going to just a very one-sided counseling," Perpich said, implying that the abortion facilities she runs encourage some women to not have abortions. [I find this statement extremely hard to believe]

"I would think they should see this as a positive," Peggy Benicke, director of the Robbinsdale Women's Center, retorted. Her center received $38,000 for cribs and car seats from the state.

"Every dollar that we're receiving (from) this grant is going toward women who are having babies," she said. LifeNews.com


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