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Michigan’s budget includes $800,000 for abortion alternatives

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) has a history of supporting anti-abortion measures in the state. (Carlos Osorio/AP) Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) has a history of supporting anti-abortion measures in the state. (Carlos Osorio/AP)

An organization to help pregnant women in Michigan say “no” to abortion could see an $800,000 boost next year.

Under its newly passed budget, Michigan would expand its partnership with a faith-infused nonprofit group called Real Alternatives to fund “life-affirming” pregnancy centers throughout the state. Stocked with free diapers, toys and clothes, the center offers parenting classes and counseling on topics like adoption. Staff also advise women on how to tell their boyfriends and parents that they have decided to keep their baby.

Michigan’s funding of the abortion alternatives program would be roughly equal to the amount it spends on pregnancy prevention education and family planning services, according to the Detroit News. Support for the program has drawn criticism from groups like Planned Parenthood of Mid and South Michigan, which blast it as politically motivated.

The budget has not yet been approved by Gov. Rick Snyder (R), although he has described himself as “firmly pro-life” and has a history of signing anti-abortion legislation with the help of the Republican-controlled legislature. A spokesman for Snyder did not immediately return request for comment.

Real Alternatives’ biggest presence is in Pennsylvania, where it says it has helped lower Pennsylvania’s abortion rate by about 7 percent. The group has a $5.5 million-a-year contract with the Pennsylvania Health Department, working with 95 centers statewide.

This is the organization’s second shot in Michigan. The state also approved a $700,000 contract with Real Alternatives last year, although it paid just a fraction of the cost after the organization failed to sign up new providers during the first eight months of the contract.

“Because they’ve had difficulty getting providers on board, we do have concerns about the effectiveness of this program. We are looking at ways we can improve the reports we receive from them,” said Angela Minicuci, a spokeswoman for the Michigan Department of Community Health.

The number of abortions in Michigan has dropped by about 20 percent over the past decade, totaling about 23,230 procedures in 2012, according to the health department.

Real Alternatives also spends about $70,000 a year to support programs across the country, according to its most recent financial statement. The organization has trained health workers in Louisiana and Texas, while advising states including Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Florida and Minnesota on their own abortion alternatives programs.

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