On Thursday, March 3, by a vote of 75 to 19, the Arkansas House of Representatives made history with their final approval of $1 million in state funding for pregnancy resource centers in Arkansas. The Arkansas Senate previously approved the same funding bill by a vote of 27 to 4.
In speaking for the appropriation, State Rep. Robin Lundstrum and State Rep. Cindy Crawford told lawmakers if Arkansas is going to make abortion illegal, the State needs to step up and provide help for women with unplanned pregnancies.
As part of our long-term plan to reduce the demand for Abortion in Arkansas, in January, we met with Governor Hutchinson along with leaders in the Arkansas Senate and House. Our recommendation was for Arkansas to follow a dozen other states by launching a State-funded program for pregnancy centers. The Governor agreed. House and Senate leadership drew up the plan and presented it as a part of this year’s state budget in Senate Bill 102.
Approximately, 45 non-profit pregnancy centers are in operation across Arkansas. Having funds for ultrasound machines and other equipment as well as diapers, formula, maternity clothes, and other supplies will be a game-changer for many clinics. Funds will be available through the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration after the new fiscal year begins on July 1.
Last year, we listed this funding for pregnancy centers as one of our goals for 2022. I am pleased to report that we have achieved that goal—partially. The next step is that we need to be ready to help pregnancy centers be successful in obtaining those funds without a bunch of strings attached. Here is how we plan to help.
First, the Department of Finance and Administration will write rules for how to apply for funds and how the funds can be used. As with all rules, they have to take public comments, and the rules have to be approved by the legislature. If they’re not done right, we and others can weigh in and do our part in making the rules work properly. Second, for any pregnancy center that needs help with navigating the application process, we plan to be there to help them from start to finish. Our goal is to help pregnancy centers maximize every penny of this money.
Sometimes we forget the larger picture. I am reminded that we are not just funding pregnancy centers. These dollars will save the lives of unborn children. None of us knows how many, but we’re safe to say that $1 million spent by pregnancy centers will help lots of women decide not to get an abortion.
That’s something to celebrate.