Pennsylvania’s New Women’s Service Program Will Provide Inclusive Health Care

Tax dollars that had previously funded anti-abortion services disguised as health care at crisis pregnancy centers will finally fund legitimate medical support for women.
Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro giving a speech in Philadelphia on Nov. 5, 2022. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

The Shapiro Administration announced Tuesday the grantees who will oversee the new Women’s Service Program, an initiative of the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services. The program is dedicated to enhancing accessible and inclusive women’s health care, with a specific focus on pregnant and parenting women.

Funding for the initiative represents subsidies that were formerly allocated to crisis pregnancy centers located throughout the Commonwealth.

The Shapiro administration previously  announced in August that funding for Real Alternatives, and their network of crisis pregnancy centers, would end on December 31.

“For decades, taxpayer dollars have gone to fund Real Alternatives,” Governor Josh Shapiro said. “My Administration will not continue that pattern – we will ensure women in this Commonwealth receive the reproductive health care they deserve.”

Shapiro kept his word.

“We’re grateful the Shapiro Administration finally pulled Pennsylvania out of the grim business of funding anti-abortion careerists and an industry that exploits pregnant people,” said Tara Murtha, Director of Strategic Communications at Women’s Law Project. “Today, we’re celebrating the Administration’s landmark investment into legitimate medical services and compassionate, comprehensive support for pregnant and parenting Pennsylvanians.”

Prenatal care, early detection and prevention screenings, parenting programs, menstrual products, STI testing, and referrals for other types of assistance as needed will be provided by the grantees.

“All women deserve comprehensive, empathetic care and counsel – especially when they are pregnant or adjusting to the change of being a parent and caring for a new child,” said Dr. Val Arkoosh, Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services.  

In addition to Pennsylvania, funding was also cut for crisis pregnancy centers in Michigan.

In 2017, former Auditor General Eugene DePasquale accused Real Alternatives of “illegal and secretive skimming of public tax dollars.” In 2020, the Campaign for Accountability called on Pennsylvania officials to terminate Real Alternatives’ contract, filing a 27-page public complaint that detailed serious allegations of misusing public funds.

A 2021 report co-authored by Women’s Law Project as part of The Alliance found that 1% of crisis pregnancy centers in Pennsylvania provided prenatal care. A 2022 follow-up analysis found that 69% of CPCs in Pennsylvania promoted false and misleading claims and 41% promoted so-called “abortion pill reversal,” an experimental anti-abortion medical intervention with no clinical evidence of safety or efficacy.

Grantees include:

Region 1: Adagio Health (serving Cameron, Clarion, Crawford, Elk, Erie, Forest, McKean, Mercer, Potter, Venango, and Warren counties)

Region 2: Adagio Health (serving Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Cambria, Fayette, Greene, Indiana, Jefferson, Lawrence, Somerset, Washington, and Westmoreland counties)

Region 3: Family Health Council of Central Pennsylvania (serving Adams, Bedford, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Fulton, Huntingdon, Juniata, Lancaster, Lebanon, Mifflin, Perry, and York counties)

Region 4: Family Health Council of Central Pennsylvania (serving Blair, Bradford, Centre, Clearfield, Clinton, Columbia, Lycoming, Montour, Northumberland, Snyder, Tioga, Union, and Sullivan counties)

Region 5: Maternal & Family Health Services (serving Carbon, Lackawanna, Lehigh, Luzerne, Monroe, Northampton, Pike, Schuylkill, Susquehanna, Wyoming, and Wayne counties)

Region 6: Maternity Care Coalition (serving Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia counties)

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Jenny Stephens

Jenny Stephens is a freelance journalist who has written for a variety of publications, including The Reporter. An avid collector of all things vintage, she resides in the Philadelphia area.