Women in Michigan just can’t get a break from the relentless conservative attacks on our reproductive rights. First, conservatives pass a law requiring us to purchase nonexistent rape insurance. Then, they introduce a package of bills that would require an external ultrasound before any abortion and could criminalize the procedure after a heartbeat is detected, which can occur as early as six to eight weeks into a pregnancy – before many women even realize that they’re pregnant. Then today, the U.S. Supreme Court made it easier for anti-choice zealots to harass women as they enter health care facilities.

This week we learned that rather than making investments in programs that prevent unintended pregnancies and abortions by teaching men and women about contraception, they’ve put taxpayer money into a program that discourages contraceptive use and uses dishonest tactics to counsel women against ending a pregnancy. As a result, programs that might work like school-based health clinics or comprehensive sex education go without funding.

Within the new state budget, Real Alternatives, a Pennsylvania anti-choice non-profit, will receive $800,000 in taxpayer dollars to fund programs in Michigan that “promote child birth.” This is a $100,000 increase from last year’s contract that the organization received from the state.

For $800K you’d imagine this group is doing some pretty good work to help women and families in Michigan. Wrong.

Real Alternatives failed to see a single client or sign up one Michigan provider during the first eight months of last year’s contract, according to the Michigan Department of Community Health. The state has paid Real Alternatives less than $40,000 for expenses out of the $700,000 contract ending Sept. 30, all for administrative expenses.

In Pennsylvania, taxpayer funds go towards hundreds of non-medically qualified “counselors” who propagate, sometimes completely inaccurate, information. According to one Pennsylvania state representative, “These aren’t counselors. They are no different than those folks who carry placards outside of Magee hospital in my district to try to intimidate abortion clinics…”

If conservative legislators were really interested in helping struggling women and families they would be working to make greater investments in early childhood education and fixing our roads, not funneling hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars into medically unsound programs that attempt to limit women’s options to prevent pregnancy. But then again, this isn’t about conservatives trying to do what’s right for families or our state; it’s just another part of their agenda to take away women’s freedoms to make personal and private health decisions.

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