Shusterman comments on women’s health care announcement by Shapiro administration

PAOLI, Aug. 4 – State Rep. Melissa Shusterman, D-Chester, reacted to Thursday’s announcement by PA Department of Human Services Secretary Dr. Val Arkoosh that the state’s contract with a crisis pregnancy center organization will expire by the end of 2023. In addition, DHS will begin accepting applications from women’s health care providers to provide women’s health care across the state.

“The Shapiro administration is taking a huge step forward today by ending the Real Alternatives contract after 30 years. Every woman seeking reproductive health care has the right to unbiased, medically accurate care and counsel,” said Arkoosh. “The Department of Human Services has an obligation to ensure our contractors and partners are acting in line with these values and being good stewards of taxpayer resources, and we will not relent on this commitment.”

“For decades, taxpayer dollars have gone to fund Real Alternatives. My administration will not continue that pattern; we will ensure women in this commonwealth receive the reproductive health care they deserve,” said Gov. Josh Shapiro. “Pennsylvanians made clear by electing me as governor that they support a woman’s freedom to choose, and I will be steadfast in defending that right.”

For several decades, the General Assembly’s fiscal code allocations have funded programs that provide alternatives to abortion services. Since 1995, Real Alternatives has had an agreement with the state, as DHS fulfilled their requirement to administer budget funds. Real Alternatives works with a network of non-medical providers, which includes crisis pregnancy centers (also known as pregnancy resource centers). No commonwealth agency has licensing oversight of crisis pregnancy centers or how they assist pregnant women.

“I am grateful to Governor Shapiro and Secretary Arkoosh for working to ensure taxpayer funds are used for women’s health care in the commonwealth,” Shusterman said. “I have been concerned for some time about the deceptive practices of these crisis pregnancy centers and alarmed even more so that taxpayer dollars were being utilized to mislead women. When 1 out of 6 babies in PA are born to a parent who has not received adequate prenatal care, knowing that none of these state-funded Real Alternative centers were providing prenatal care, was deeply troubling. Soon, the tax dollars of PA’s hardworking citizens are going to be used for appropriate women’s health care.”