Is the Pregnancy Assistance Fund “Common Ground?”

Robin Marty

Some are proclaiming the administration's Pregnancy Assistance Fund as "common ground" on the abortion issue.  But is it?

The administration has dispersed millions of dollars in funding to help women and teens who are pregnant and struggling, and it is being coined a “common ground” approach to reducing abortion numbers. But it is really the “common ground” it is being hailed as?

Via CNN:

The Obama administration announced its first round of grants from a new fund aimed at helping pregnant women and parenting teens on Wednesday, a move the White House framed as part of its “common ground” approach to abortion.

The Health and Human Services Department distributed $27 million for the federal government’s Pregnancy Assistance Fund on Wednesday, the department said in a press release, awarding grants to 17 states and 13 American Indian tribes

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The grants support programs helping pregnant women and teen parents who are trying to complete high school or who need assistance with health care, child care and housing, HHS said. The grants can also be used to combat violence against pregnant women.

But advocates call the program “common ground” by stating “both pro-life and pro-choice groups support it,” then only quote anti-choice groups both for and against the fund.

Moderate religious groups hailed the fund’s creation.

“Pro-life and pro-choice people have gotten behind it so it’s a good first step at reducing abortion and providing support for healthier babes and mothers,” Kristen Day, executive director of the anti-abortion rights group Democrats for Life of America, told CNN when HHS launched the fund in July. “Once we show how effective this is we can go back and expand this program.”

But conservative anti-abortion groups greeted the fund more skeptically.

“This money is mandated for services for pregnant teens and women – violence prevention, vocational training,” said Carrie Gordon Earll, a spokeswoman for CitizenLink, the public policy arm of the evangelical group Focus on the Family. “It would be inaccurate to characterize it as ‘abortion common ground’ since it doesn’t specifically address abortion.”

Is putting in more support for pregnant women and teens common ground in trying to bring down the numbers of abortions in this country?  Sure, assuming that those women did in fact want to be mothers.  But there seems to be an assumption that we find common ground by converting unwanted pregnancies into wanted pregnancies, rather than trying to stop unwanted pregnancies before they are conceived.

Real, comprehensive sex ed that informs sexual partners, abdundantly available, cheap, or even totally subsidized contraceptives — these are the programs that pro-choice people advocate for and push, and would happily get behind and support.  These should be the priorities. And yet we cannot seem to find anyone interested in making these standard. 

Common ground is making every pregnancy a wanted pregnancy because the majority of them were planned, not only because a majority of them were provided extra support to carry to term.

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