Anti-abortion group Real Alternatives gets $3.5M state contract

Gov. Mike Pence announced a $3.5 million contract Monday with the anti-abortion organization Real Alternatives.

In a 40-page document, the state spells out its expectations for the one-year contract, including maintaining a "pro-life mission" and understanding the contract does not include funding for the referral or advocacy of contraceptive services or drugs.

The stated purpose of the Pennsylvania-based Real Alternatives is to "actively promote childbirth instead of abortion."

The state signed a $1 million contract with the organization last year for a pilot program in northern Indiana.

Pence cited that program's success in his decision to expand services statewide through next September. He called the move an "important step" for the health of women and families.

In the contract, Real Alternatives is bringing resources to existing pregnancy centers and adoption and social services agencies "so more women can be served and fewer abortions chosen."

The governor's office said services will include referrals and counseling for issues ranging from breastfeeding to sexual abuse, and cover the period from pregnancy through 12 months after a baby is born.

Mike Ficther, CEO of Indiana Right to Life, praised the decision, saying, "We have seen positive results from one year of Real Alternatives in Northern Indiana, and we look forward to seeing what the statewide impact of Real Alternatives will look like."

A spokesman for the Indiana Democratic Party released a statement criticizing the contract.

"Hoosiers are already aware that Gov. Pence will put his ideology about healthcare ahead of their well-being, but today's contract announcement raises more questions about the Pence Administration's real agenda," said Drew Anderson, communications director for the Indiana Democratic Party.

The governor's office said the contract will be funded through existing monies from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. 

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