States may no longer be able to utilize TANF dollars to fund pregnancy resource center services (PRCs) for mothers if a proposed HHS rule goes into effect. On Oct. 2, Secretary Xavier Becerra’s agency stealthily posted the rule change that will affect four states which use TANF funds for pregnancy resource centers: Missouri, Pennsylvania, Louisiana and Indiana.
The Biden administration’s move goes against recent polling which underscores the popularity of pregnancy resource centers. A Creative Response Concepts poll found 74% are in favor of publicly funding these centers.
The four states individually utilize between $1-7 million of TANF dollars to fund pregnancy centers in a year. According to SBA Pro-Life America State Policy Director Katie Daniel, the amount is a drop in the bucket compared to Planned Parenthood, which received $670.4 million of federal and state taxpayer dollars in 2021-2022:
“Biden’s twisted attempt to hinder pregnancy centers’ ability to serve women in need demonstrates his administration is not pro-choice, but pro-abortion. Sixty percent of women who have had abortions say they would have preferred to give birth if they had more financial or emotional support. Yet, Democrats have gone out of their way to ensure women facing unexpected pregnancies are steered toward only one option – abortion.”
Pregnancy centers are the only entities called out in the proposed rule, a move SBA Pro-Life America and the Charlotte Lozier Institute say is unfair, inaccurate and unconstitutional. In public comment to the secretary, the organizations say:
“On its face, the rule is not viewpoint neutral. . . HHS scrutiny of a state including Pregnancy Resource Centers in its TANF program seems tied to a Center’s disfavored (by the current administration) views rather than whether it is a good partner that is successfully effectuating the purposes of TANF.”
Lawmakers from the four states immediately impacted by the Biden administration’s proposed rule and Ohio which previously utilized TANF funds for PRCs sent a letter last week objecting to the rule change:
“The proposed rule suggests PRCs are not good partners for state-run TANF programs. We disagree with that assertion and contend this is for the states to decide. As elected officials, voted for and held accountable by our neighbors, we are closest to the people and know which entities within our communities can best fulfill the goals of TANF to help families flourish.”
An executive director of a pregnancy center which receives TANF funding who requested anonymity lamented the news of HHS’s attempt to weaken services for low-income families:
“Our clinic serves over 150 families each year. When a woman with an unexpected pregnancy first walks through our doors we welcome her with open arms and assist her in every way we can for almost two years – from free ultrasounds, medical exams, and counseling, to food, diapers, furniture, and clothing after her baby is born. We offer mentoring, educational programs and financial assistance too during that time – help with housing, transportation, utilities, and even college tuition. It’s unfortunate this new policy harms the women and families TANF was created to help.”
The proposed rule is the latest in a string of political attacks on pregnancy centers. In 2022, Yelp placed a discriminatory warning label on centers, a move which 14 Democrat attorneys general praised in a recent letter. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and other Democrats have called for pregnancy centers to be shut down. Colorado, this year, passed a law banning abortion pill reversal (APR) treatment. Additionally, California Attorney General Rob Bonta is suing two pregnancy centers for helping women save the lives of their babies with APR.
Pregnancy resource centers have also undergone physical attacks which have markedly increased since the Dobbs decision. There have been 88 known attacks since the Supreme Court decision leak in May of 2022.