Family Planning Pilot Program Wants No Government Funding
The organization behind a program to provide free health care to underserved women says it has no interest in federal grant money because it wants to deliver its family planning message without government intrusion.
Healthy Tomorrows is a collaboration between a group of Michigan-based pregnancy centers and Christian Healthcare Centers (CHC), a Grand Rapids, Michigan-based direct primary care practice (DPC). The program is raising private money to provide free health care services to women as an alternative to organizations such as Planned Parenthood that refer women for abortions.
“It's women's health, it's maternity care, it's prenatal care, it's postpartum, well-child, and ongoing care,” said Mark Blocher, CEO of Christian Healthcare Centers (CHC) and organizer of Healthy Tomorrows. “Pregnancy care centers do a wonderful job at what they do, but the abortion issue has changed, the way you reach abortion-vulnerable women has changed, and we need to change with it.”
Healthy Tomorrows, currently in the pilot stage, provides care at the pregnancy centers and at CPC locations using CPC doctors and staff. The program will serve uninsured women ineligible for Medicaid, and Medicaid-eligible women lacking access to a primary care provider.
Blocher says he’s not concerned about other organizations’ funding.
“I’m tired of people talking about defunding Planned Parenthood,” said Blocher. “I just want to take their business away from them.”
Patients will enroll in the program through the pregnancy centers.
“One of the challenges has been creating and developing relations with patients, and this is a start,” said Blocher.
Freedom to Practice Beliefs
Healthy Tomorrows is nonprofit and funds itself through private contributions and community grants. Because it does not promote abortion or have any connection to abortion services, it could qualify for federal grant money under the new rules for Title X family planning funding.
Blocher says he’s rejecting involvement with the government because there is nothing to say a different presidential administration wouldn’t change the rules again.
“Healthy Tomorrows wants to avoid entanglement with the inevitable government red tape that accompanies government funding,” said Blocher. “Healthy Tomorrows is an outreach from the life-affirming Christian community to pregnant women in need, and government funding introduces a third-party funding source that has the potential to undermine that message.”
Blocher says he is hopeful donors who share the organization’s beliefs will come forward to support the program.
“At the end of the day, we have the ability to take our pro-life commitment and strategically use it to change the lives of women and change the language of abortion,” said Blocher.
Ashley Bateman (firstname.lastname@example.org) writes from Alexandria, Virginia.