Pennsylvanians for Human Life

Project WIN – Women In Need – Real Alternatives

    Consider the following cases: A young unmarried couple learns of the woman’s pregnancy. Both fear they are not ready for parenthood. A young woman, pregnant, homeless, and abandoned by her child’s father, faces an uncertain future with no one to help her. A fifteen-year-old girl discovers she is pregnant, is considering abortion, and wants to talk to someone. What do all three women have in common? They all saw a Project WIN (Women In Need) television ad and called 1-888-LIFE-AID.

    Each was put in contact with alternatives to abortion counseling centers nearest to them. The first couple received help to place their child for adoption. The adoption agency also provided counseling for them after their baby was born and placed for adoption. The homeless woman received shelter at a maternity home and help once her son was born. The fifteen-year-old chose life for her daughter once she was presented with alternatives to abortion.

    In 1995, 1,266 women received help from Pennsylvania’s alternative to abortion services. By 1999, that number had grown to 11,397. Since the program’s inception seven years ago, 57,000 women have been helped by Real Alternatives.

    Real Alternatives began as Project WIN (Women In Need), but the mission has been the same, to offer compassionate, practical, life-affirming alternatives to abortion for women, Real Alternatives seeks to improve a woman’s physical and mental well being before and after pregnancy care for the baby, and encourage adoption for those unable to parent.

    The Patriot-News of Harrisburg on June 23, 1997 reported “Pennsylvania is the only state to finance private pregnancy facilities and mandate they do not counsel about termination.”(abortion) How did a pro-life program receive government funding? Seven years ago, the pro-life movement and the Pa. Catholic Conference convinced the Pennsylvania state legislature to fund alternatives to abortion. Governor Casey set aside money in the state budget to fund alternatives to abortion.

    Real Alternatives has become a model program as other states have attempted to pass similar legislation. North Dakota’s attempt failed, but Louisiana’s governor is expected to sign alternatives to abortion legislation soon.

How does Real Alternatives operate?
    Real Alternatives does the advertising across the state for member counseling centers and adoption agencies using television, and newspapers encouraging women to call 1-888-LIFE-AID. Therefore, member pregnancy centers can concentrate their efforts on helping women instead of fundraising and advertising. Calls go in to Real Alternatives and women are patched through to a pregnancy center closest to their zip code. All over the state a woman is only one hour or less away from a pregnancy center.

    Real Alternatives subcontracts to 110 counseling centers which include maternity homes, adoption agencies, pregnancy counseling centers, and Catholic social service agencies. Counseling must be pro-life, so women are only referred to pro-life doctors. There is no counseling or referring for abortion. Centers must maintain client confidentiality, provide pregnancy self-testing, but cannot promote religious teaching. Women are eligible for services throughout pregnancy until baby’s first birthday. All services are free of charge.

    Think about it, 57,000 women were given REAL help, not a sales pitch for abortion.

    If these same women had gone to Planned Parenthood, the outcome for their babies would have been quite different. Statistics for one Pennsylvania Planned Parenthood abortion mill reveal 29 abortions to one referral to a Pregnancy Counseling Center. Nationwide statistics are similar: in 1993, Planned Parenthood Federation of America provided prenatal care to 9,943 mothers and aborted 134,277 children and referred an additional 80,743 women for abortions nationwide. For each woman who received prenatal care, 22 babies were aborted. Real Alternatives saves lives. Statistics show that prior to passage of the Abortion Control Act, there were 22.1 abortions out of 100 pregnancies. In 1991, the year Abortion Control act took effect, there were 20.2 abortions per 100 pregnancies. In 1997 a television advertising campaign for Real Alternatives brought the abortion rate down to 18.9 abortions per 100 pregnancies. If you offer women alternatives to abortion, they will choose them. Eighty-three percent of women who have had abortions say they would not have had an abortion if just one person offered them help. Real Alternatives offers that help. If you are pregnant and need help call 1-888-LIFE-AID.

By Susan Cirba reprinted from the Pro-Life Reporter Fall 2002

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