In late January, we celebrated the overturn of Roe v. Wade at the 50th annual March for Life. This is the first year for a Post-Roe America, and that means you can expect to see a lot of policy proposals and adjustments as more babies will be born now all across our country and individual states. Texas is leading the charge in making more resources available to mothers and their children, and it paved the way well before Roe was overturned. The Texas Alternatives to Abortion Program (A2A) has been in effect since 2005 and is proof of that.
A2A supports pregnant women and their families, as well as parents considering adoption or who have experienced a miscarriage. The program covers counseling for mothers, parenting classes, job training, and material resources, including clothing and formula. It also helps connect pregnant women to government assistance programs, such as WIC and Medicaid.
These services are offered through a variety of entities, such as nonprofit pregnancy centers, social service providers, adoption agencies, and maternity homes. In the 2020 fiscal year, A2A provided services to 1,079,731 clients, serving a total of 101,099 unduplicated clients, a 59 percent increase from the previous year.
During its previous budget cycle, the Texas state legislature awarded $100 million to A2A for the 2022-23 fiscal year. The legislature absolutely must vote to increase the budget this time around to meet expecting parents’ needs as the state sees a significant rise in births and a sharp drop in abortions.
In 2020-2021, the Texas legislature awarded $80 million to the A2A program, and in 2021-2022, $100 million. We propose that there should be funding increases in 2023 to accommodate the expanded needs of moms and their babies in Texas in a post-Roe era.
Amid a recent report showing that more babies have been born in Texas since it enacted the Texas Heartbeat law last year, state lawmakers now have an opportunity during this legislative session to invest even more in women and babies by investing more in its A2A program.
With the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe last summer, a ruling that returned the abortion issue to individual states, pro-life lawmakers should renew their focus on securing family-centered initiatives and alternatives to abortion programs, such as the A2A.
According to data analyzed by Dr. Michael J. New, an associate scholar for the pro-life Charlotte Lozier Institute, 157,856 babies were born in Texas between March and July. The data, which was collected from the Texas Department of State Health Services, shows that the number of births exceeded the three-year average by more than 5,000 births.
In September 2021, the state enacted the Texas Heartbeat Law, which bans abortions after a fetal heartbeat becomes detectable. Between the month of the new law’s enactment and January 2022, the number of abortions in Texas dropped by at least 10,000.
“This analysis shows that nearly 50 percent of the abortion-vulnerable children who were protected by the Texas Heartbeat Act were carried to term likely as a result of the law,” the pro-life researcher wrote. “It makes an important contribution to the existing body of research which shows that the incidence of abortion is sensitive to its legal status and that pro-life laws save lives.”
The Supreme Court’s June 2022 Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision made it possible for states to enact laws protecting preborn children. Currently, thirteen states have laws in effect that protect the preborn throughout all nine months of pregnancy.
The Texas state legislature started its 140-day session earlier this month. If lawmakers want to continue to counteract the devastating legacy left behind by legalized abortion, then they must vote to increase the budget for A2A. Pro-life politicians’ responsibility to ensure women and children have access to resources did not end with the court’s reversal of the 1973 (originating in Texas) decision that legalized abortion nationwide. If anything, the ruling last summer only amplified individual states’ responsibility to provide alternatives to abortion now that the issue has returned to the state level.
As the Charlotte Lozier Institute reported in June of 2022, 14 states authorize some form of alternative to abortion, which typically involves supplying funding toward pregnancy help or social service agencies. These states include Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wisconsin.
More states need to follow suit by taking the initiative to save lives and create strong families. Now that Roe has been overturned, there is no excuse to hold back when it comes to offering life-affirming help to mothers and families. This is the way we build a culture of life in a post-Roe era.