By Maria V. Gallagher, Legislative Director, Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation
When I moved to Pennsylvania, I quickly learned that residents of the Keystone State take their football quite seriously—so seriously, in fact, that Penn State ranks in the top 3 universities in the nation in terms of football game attendance, according to the NCAA.
But I was even more startled to learn that the number of women served by Pennsylvania’s Pregnancy and Parenting Support program would fill that Happy Valley stadium three times over. Yes—more than 300,000 Pennsylvania women have been assisted by the program over nearly two-and-a-half decades of operation.
The program, administered by Real Alternatives, Inc., has a phenomenal success rate when it comes to serving pregnant women and their children. Through comprehensive counseling and support, the program provides the helping hand many women need during a challenging time in their lives.
As award-winning journalist Kathryn Jean Lopez has stated, “What a blessing you are to those whose lives you literally save – whose families you help build and nurture when there is so much pressure to do otherwise.”
The program was the brainchild of the administration of the late Governor Robert P. Casey (D-PA), who believed that Pennsylvania should be investing state resources into a program that would provide life-changing assistance to women facing challenging pregnancies.
Over the years, the program has had substantial bipartisan support in both the executive and legislative branches. As Beverly Mackereth, the former Secretary of the PA Department of Public Welfare, said, “We fund Real Alternatives because it’s the right thing to do! We know that the work that you all do is critical to making Pennsylvania a better place. We know that what you do every day is making a tremendous difference in the lives of our children and families.”
Meanwhile, National Right to Life’s Olivia Gans Turner once said, “I cannot thank you enough for having the generosity and the courage and the truthfulness to say to this woman ‘yes.’ However this girl is, this woman, this young mother; yeah, this is going to be a tough time in your life. There are going to be some things we got to deal with here. This is going to perhaps mean some rocky days, but we are beside you every step of the way…”
And that is the true secret of success of the program—a caring, compassionate person, offering help to a pregnant woman on a one-to-one basis. It has saved—and changed—thousands of lives, and continues to be a beacon of hope for the future.