Sunday, 03 March 2024
Pregnancy help coalition to administer state mothers and babies program West Virginia Pregnancy Center Coalition

Pregnancy help coalition to administer state mothers and babies program

A pro-life nonprofit based in West Virginia has been given management of a grant designed to provide funding for pregnancy help organizations in the state.

The West Virginia Pregnancy Center Coalition was selected at the end of November to oversee the West Virginia Mothers and Babies Support Program, a state grant with the sole purpose of financially supporting pregnancy help centers. 

The grant, which is awarded by the state’s Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR), was signed into law by Republican Gov. Jim Justice in March 2023. It allocates $1 million for pregnancy help organizations to provide various services to pregnant women and families.

“Our vision, hope, and prayers are that these funds will bolster pregnancy help organizations, enabling them to enhance existing services and launch new programs,” Jenny Enstminger, executive director of the West Virginia Pregnancy Center Coalition, told Pregnancy Help News

She explained that the Mothers and Babies Support Program “functions as a reimbursement” by “providing funds per service to clients,” including “medical programs offering limited obstetrical ultrasound and STI testing.”

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Enstminger shared that other states are also implementing various programs to encourage life-affirming alternatives to unplanned or difficult pregnancies in the aftermath of the Dobbs decision, which revoked a constitutional “right” to abortion and returned authority to legislate abortion to individual states. Louisiana and North Dakota have both introduced tax credit programs for pregnancy help centers while Arkansas, Indiana and Oklahoma have launched initiatives to support them through state funding.

“The fall of Roe v. Wade has emphasized the need for increased support for women, men and families facing unintended pregnancies,” Enstminger continued. “Pregnancy centers are responding by offering more tangible and emotional support.”

She also cited a December 2023 report from the Charlotte Lozier Institute, which revealed that “the 2,700 pregnancy centers in the U.S. provided services worth $350 million” in 2022. 

As enacted through HB 2002 with Gov. Justice’s signature, the West Virginia Mothers and Babies Support Program funds may be distributed among “various pregnancy support organizations, including pregnancy centers, adoption agencies and life-affirming social services,” Enstminger said. 

“We commend Governor Jim Justice and the many state legislators who recognized the need of our state to support pregnant women and families with practical help as they seek to provide safe and loving care for West Virginia mothers and babies,” she said.

Tracie Shellhouse, vice president of ministry services at Heartbeat International, said in a statement to Pregnancy Help News that the successful track record of the West Virginia Pregnancy Center Coalition “make[s] them the ideal choice to manage” the grant. 

“Who better to ensure the success of the program than those who are already empowering their neighbors to make healthy choices by compassionately meeting the needs of mothers and babies across the state?” asked Shellhouse. “I commend West Virginia’s leaders for recognizing that the pregnancy help network in their state is the perfect partner for overseeing and implementing such a valuable and important program.”

Tweet This: Who better to ensure the success of the West Virginia Mothers and Babies Support Program than the West Virginia Pregnancy Center Coalition?

The grant program works to protect life alongside the state’s abortion law, which bans abortion throughout pregnancy with limited exceptions in place for cases of rape, a “lethal anomaly” or when abortions are deemed “medical emergencies” in order to spare the mother from serious injury or death, not including psychological conditions. Since the law was signed in September 2022, there are no longer any open abortion facilities in West Virginia.

Editor's note: Heartbeat International manages Pregnancy Help News.

Jean Mondoro

Jean is passionate about helping those who find themselves in unplanned pregnancies. She has volunteered with her local pregnancy resource center. She has a bachelor's degree in Communication with a concentration in journalism, and has written for newspapers, magazines and blogs. Jean writes from Virginia.

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