To: House Appropriations - Human Resources Division
From: Christopher T. Dodson, Executive Director
Subject: HB 1012 and HB 1072: Economic Assistance and Alternatives to Abortion Program
Date: January 25, 2017

The North Dakota Catholic Conference asks this committee to increase the appropriation for the Alternatives to Abortion program.

The Alternatives to Abortion program was authorized by the 2005 Legislative Assembly. It reimburses pregnancy centers, adoption agencies, and maternity homes for services to pregnant women and women who think they might be pregnant. The 2005 legislature appropriated $500,000 for the biennium, the entire amount coming from special funds from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families block grant. The appropriation today is still $500,000 a biennium.

This might not be a problem if the costs of providing services was the same as it was in 2005 and the number of women served in the program remain stagnant. It has not. In 2011 the Department contracted with Village Family Services to administer the program, including publicity for the services. The number of women served has since more than doubled. Without additional funding, the Village reduced the reimbursement rate several times until it eventually ran out of funding before the 2013-2015 biennium ended.

At the same time, the percentage of pregnant women choosing abortion fell.

Probably no other group of service providers has not received any reimbursement increase since 2005. This is a successful program that does not use any state funds, uses the private charitable sector, saves lives, and helps women address the very same factors that contribute to poverty. It is time we explore how to increase the program’s funding so that we can ensure that the Alternatives to Abortion program continues.