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Program deserves support from both sides in debate


Ellie Shockley apparently knows little about North Dakota’s alternatives to abortion program.

This program started in 2005 with bipartisan support from legislators on both sides of the abortion debate. The purpose is something that everyone should champion. It provides help to women who are pregnant or think they are pregnant by reimbursing pregnancy centers, adoption agencies and maternity homes for some of their services. By doing so the state encourages the private charitable sector to help women address the very same factors that contribute to poverty.

The writer repeats the abortion lobby canard that programs such as these fund fake health care centers. In fact, much of the funding goes to well-established and respected social service and health care agencies like the Village Family Service Center, Lutheran Social Services, Catholic Charities and First-Choice clinic. The adoption agencies, maternity homes and medical clinics are all regulated within their respective professions, and the Village Family Service Center administers the program.

These agencies are not fully reimbursed by the state. The appropriation — which consists of only federal, not state dollars — covers only a small fraction of the cost of doing these services. Nevertheless, these organizations will serve nearly 1,400 women this year — a number that has doubled since 2011. At the same time, the percentage of pregnant women getting abortions has gone down.

By all measures, the program is a success and deserves support from both sides of the abortion debate.

Dodson is executive director and general counsel of the North Dakota Catholic Conference