Minnesota’s largest anti-abortion group, Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL), says state-funded anti-abortion programs are responsible for a drop in the number of abortions among low-income women.
If the group’s assertion is correct, the programs cost taxpayers more than $200,000 per woman successfully treated.
Data released by the Minnesota Department of Health show a slight drop in abortions among women on medical assistance between 2006 and 2007, the most current year that data is available. Medical providers were reimbursed by the state for 3,914 procedures in 2007 compared to 3,937 in 2006, a drop of 0.6 percent.
MCCL says Positive Alternatives, a state program that encourages women to carry their pregnancy to term, was responsible for the decrease.
Positive Alternatives awards grants to 37 groups, many of which are religion-based. The Highland LifeCare Center, Inc., in St. Paul, for example, tells pregnant women, “Having an abortion may affect more than just your body and your mind — it may have an impact on your relationship with God. What is God’s desire for you in this situation? How does God see your unborn child? These are important questions to consider.”
In a press release titled, “Positive Alternatives helped to save lives, reduce taxpayer funded abortions in 2007,” MCCL executive director Scott Fischbach said, “Positive Alternatives is making a real difference for pregnant women in need. The DHS report is more proof that women are receiving the help they need to successfully face the challenges of unexpected pregnancy without resorting to abortion.”
But reproductive health advocates aren’t buying that reasoning.
“MCCL’s statement … is disingenuous at best and is probably due to a decrease in unintended pregnancies,” said Linnea House, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Minnesota.
House added that if MCCL is correct, then the figures demonstrate a colossal cost to taxpayers. The difference between 2006 and 2007 is 23 abortions among low-income women, and the Positive Alternatives program costs $4.75 million every two years, she pointed out.
“Their numbers show that this is an investment of $206,521 per woman,” said House. “By comparison, an investment in family planning programs, programs the MCCL has consistently fought against, helps nearly 50,000 women and every dollar invested will save the state at least $5 in return.”
Kathi Di Nicola, communications director for Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota, agreed that the decrease is more likely attributable to family planning programs.
“We would attribute the decrease to fewer unintended pregnancies, which is likely the result of increased access to affordable, accessible family planning,” she said.
“One year’s data does not constitute a trend, but it is encouraging news for family planning providers,” she added.
House said the most effective state programs are those that prevent pregnancy in the first place.
“We know that family planning programs prevent unintended pregnancies and actually save the taxpayer money,” she said.