By Kim Schwartz, Texas Right to Life
Within the last week, Texas lawmakers slashed proposed funding for adoption agencies and pregnancy centers while also diluting the focus of the state’s Alternatives to Abortion program.
The Texas House passed a bill last week (Senate Bill 24) that, in part, codifies the Alternatives to Abortion program (renamed Thriving Texas Families Program in the bill). While the bill is well-intentioned, Texas Right to Life, along with the nonprofit pregnancy centers, adoption agencies, and maternity homes that receive this state funding, are concerned that SB 24 would instead harm the Alternatives to Abortion program and water-down its unique Pro-Life mission.
The new bill allows non-Pro-Life organizations to seek Alternatives to Abortion funding for services that do not directly benefit pregnant moms and new families. Thus, current pregnancy centers and adoption agencies could receive less funding because the program’s resources would be spread thinner among unrelated nonprofits.
Similarly, SB 24 requires pregnancy centers and adoption agencies currently in the program to prove vague performance outcomes before they are approved to continue receiving funding.
At the same time, lawmakers decreased the proposed funding for Alternatives to Abortion to $140 million from $200 million in the state budget that the Texas House initially approved in April.
This amount will not even meet the demand the program has seen in 2023, let alone meet the continued increased demand to be expected in a post-Roe Texas.
Since Roe v. Wade was overturned last summer, pregnancy centers, adoption agencies, and maternity homes experienced a 43% increase in demand for services.
With the addition of unrelated providers to the program under SB 24, the funding will be distributed more thinly to the pregnancy resource centers, adoption agencies, and maternity homes that currently provide these life-affirming resources to women.
As a result, countless pregnant women may not receive the life-saving help they need and could instead turn to illegal or out-of-state abortions, and new Pro-Life providers waiting to enter the program in underserved areas will be denied the opportunity to serve their communities.
We hope to be proven wrong in these concerns.
Texas’ Alternatives to Abortion program is the largest and most successful state-funded resource in the country helping women choose Life. For the last 18 years, Texas has served as a model for other states to follow. While elective abortion is prohibited from the moment of fertilization, this program is still needed now more than ever, as shown by the 43% increase experienced just since the Supreme Court ruled in Dobbs v. Jackson last summer.
There is still a narrow window to restore full funding to the Alternatives to Abortion program at $200 million, as initially approved by the House, to mitigate some of these concerns. Texas lawmakers could add supplemental funding in a separate bill, but it must be done this week. There is no time to waste.
Texas Right to Life will continue to advocate for the Alternatives to Abortion program as we have since its inception 18 years ago and will continue keeping a close eye on the Texas Health and Human Services Commission to mitigate any efforts to undermine or dilute the life-saving work of pregnancy centers, adoption agencies, and maternity homes.