The House of Representatives passed a resolution to maintain funding for pro-life pregnancy resource centers Thursday amid efforts within President Joe Biden’s administration to deny the facilities funding under a federal assistance program.
The resolution, sponsored by Rep. Michelle Fischbach, R-Minnesota, would prohibit the Department of Health and Human Services from stripping funds from the centers, which offer support for pregnant women and mothers who are in crisis pregnancies as an alternative to abortion. The resolution would thwart a proposed HHS rule change that would prohibit the facilities from accessing funds through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program.
Republicans overwhelmingly supported the resolution, titled the Supporting Pregnant and Parenting Women and Families Act, arguing that the facilities provide much-needed help to pregnant women. Alternatively, House Democrats, who claimed that the facilities provide false information about abortion, opposed the bill. It faces an uphill battle in the Democratic-controlled Senate.
“Make no mistake, conservatives are here for unborn babies and their mothers,” Fischbach said on the House floor before the vote.
The resolution was backed by pregnancy resource centers, pro-life organizations, and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Before the vote, lawmakers and representatives for pro-life organizations and pregnancy resource centers rallied in support of the facilities’ efforts to help pregnant women.
Jean Marie Davis, executive director of the Branches Pregnancy Resource Center in Vermont, spoke about the support she received from a pregnancy resource center when she was a victim of human sex trafficking and had considered aborting her son.
“I wanted to abort my child and they told me about a pregnancy center, and a woman named Phyllis Phelps was there and she said to me, ‘How can I help you?’” Davis said. “And I hadn’t heard those words in over 10 years because all they wanted to do was either rape me, pull a knife out on me, pull a gun on me, and just use my body.”
Davis said she chose to keep her child when “they allowed me to hear the heartbeat.” The woman who helped her recommended her to be the executive director of Branches Pregnancy Center, where she tries to emulate the support shown to her for women who are in similar circumstances.
“We actually do life with you, and that’s what our center at Branches does,” Davis said. “We say we do life with each other however it may look. [There] is a false narrative that’s out there that we don’t help women. I am true proof that not only do they help you, but they actually get you set into a place where you can turn around and provide services and help the community with more hope — his name is Jesus.”
Rep. Andy Harris, R-Maryland, who co-chairs the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus, defended the work of pregnancy resource centers like Branches and said he received a “unique insight into the preciousness of life and motherhood” as an anesthesiologist, working with pregnant women and women who had just given birth.
“Regrettably, we’ve not yet built a culture of life in the U.S.,” Harris said. “Pregnant mothers are often fearful of the demands of having children and too often society tells them that the solution is simply to terminate the life of an unborn child. But across America, thousands of pregnancy resource centers provide ultrasound and pregnancy tests, material resources, and parenting skill classes by offering resources and compassion.”
Rep. Kat Cammack, R-Florida, speaking about the need to help women in crisis pregnancies, shared her personal story. Her mother “had a terrible stroke” in her late 20s and was told she would probably never get pregnant. When pregnant with Cammack, doctors advised her mother to get an abortion.
“Against all odds, she got pregnant and was encouraged to abort me … at the advice of her doctors, at the advice and urging of her own family, and against all those odds, she still chose life,” Cammack said.
“Every single woman comes to the table with a different experience and a different story and the thing that I am most proud of with this movement is that we meet these women and these families where they’re at. This is a judgment-free zone. This is our fight for the generational cause of human dignity,” she said.
More than 2,500 pregnancy resource centers operate in the United States, outnumbering the number of abortion clinics in the country.