October 5, 2015; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Pennsylvania state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale, who was also a former three-term state representative, had never heard of Real Alternatives even though it had a five-year state grant of $30.2 million to support a network of 40 nonprofits which work to persuade women away from abortion. To be funded, the nonprofits must reportedly take a pledge not to discriminate or charge fees. They must also “maintain a pro-life mission” and “provide abstinence education as the best and only method” of birth control.
“It is not simply a program that provides…support to pregnant women,” said Sue Frietsche, an attorney at the Women’s Law Project. “There is a clear ideological agenda behind it.”
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette collected brochures from three programs in the network, and not only is there a clear ideological agenda, but it is backed up by any number of claims about the disastrous results of abortion.
“Did ‘they’ really tell you everything? […] Should you look into the risks that are being discovered, things like an increased risk of breast cancer, depression, nightmares, guilt?” reads one brochure. Another states, “Women who had abortions have increased risk of breast cancer.” A third asserts, “There is evidence that abortion is associated with a decrease in emotional health. […] This psychological response is a form of post-traumatic stress disorder.”
“Recent research confirms that the best choice physically, emotionally and psychologically to an unplanned pregnancy is childbirth and the worst is abortion,” says a website bearing the Real Alternatives name and referred to in one brochure.
“Early studies of the relationship between prior induced abortion and breast cancer risk were methodologically flawed,” said a committee of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists in 2009. “More rigorous recent studies demonstrate no causal relationship” between abortion and breast cancer.
Nada Stotland, former president of the American Psychiatric Association, called it “cruel and wrong” to tell women that getting an abortion would lead to mental illness.
“I was surprised to hear the program existed,” said DePasquale. “To the best of my knowledge, none of my predecessors have looked at this.”
The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services says it began an audit of Real Alternatives back on August 4th, but spokeswoman Kait Gillis didn’t disclose what spurred that audit, or what would be audited. DePasquale announced that a state audit, the scope of which has not yet been announced, would start this month.—Ruth McCambridge