A grant to fund Georgia’s pro-life pregnancy centers, passed in both houses of the Georgia legislature earlier this spring, was approved Tuesday by Republican Gov. Nathan Deal at the state capitol in Atlanta.
Establishing the Pregnancy and Parenting Grant Program, the legislation clears the way for Georgia to fund up to $2 million per year in the 2017 fiscal year, which begins in July of 2016.
As many as 70 pregnancy help organizations are eligible to apply for the grant, which reimburses the centers for narrowly tailored costs and cannot be used for “political or religious purposes.”
“By creating this grant program, we are offering Georgia’s women true and genuine support as they make choices regarding their unborn babies,” Georgia Life Alliance executive director Emily Matson said in a press release. “Our Pregnancy Resource Centers and Pregnancy Medical Clinics provide the perfect alternative to the profit-motivated abortion clinics where our women are solely a number and a payment.”
Reaching upwards of 25,000 Georgia women each year with free services that include ultrasounds, STI testing, peer counseling, parenting classes and more, life-affirming pregnancy centers in the state out-number abortion clinics by a 7-1 ratio, with six of the state’s 10 abortion providers located in Atlanta.
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Protections on preborn babies and mothers throughout the state have been advanced in recent years thanks to state Sen. Renee Unterman (R-Buford), the bill’s author.
Sen. Unterman previously backed Georgia’s 2005 Women’s Right to Know Act, which requires women seeking abortions to made aware of a full range of information about abortion, including associated risks and up-to-date information on free ultrasounds at life-affirming pregnancy centers.
Home of Heartbeat International’s 45th Annual Conference this March—gathering over 1,100 pregnancy help leaders from the U.S. and around the world—Georgia now becomes the 11th state to fund the work of pregnancy centers.
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“We’re thankful to see Georgia take this crucial stand with those who are championing life and true choice every day in every corner of the state,” Jor-El Godsey, president of Heartbeat International, said. “Pregnancy centers set the standard for true compassion and support for women, so that no woman ever feels so alone, coerced or hopeless that she ends her child’s life through abortion.”
Legislation directing funding to pregnancy centers for material support and help has previously been adopted in Indiana, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Missouri, Louisiana, Texas, Minnesota and Oklahoma.
GOP presidential candidate John Kasich and former candidate Jeb Bush each played a role in funding pregnancy centers through state budgets in Ohio and Florida, respectively.
"It was wonderful to be able to thank the Governor in person for his support of the bill," Kristina Twitty, director of operations for Georgia Alliance for Life, said. "We look forward to implementing this program statewide to support the work of pregnancy centers that truly create a culture of life in Georgia."