“I agree with former Democrat Gov. Bob Casey who said, ‘pregnancy resource centers, and the services they provide, help to fight the poison of hopelessness with love,’” said Rep. Josh Kail (R-Beaver) during the Pennsylvania House Republican Policy Committee’s hearing on pregnancy resource centers.
The hearing was convened by Reps. Kate Klunk (R-Hanover) and Paul Schemel (R-Franklin) and overseen by Policy Committee Chairman Rep. Kail in Harrisburg last week.
Seven panelists testified on the work and impact of pregnancy resource centers. Testimony was aimed at highlighting the positive influence of pregnancy resource centers on pregnant women, new mothers, fathers, and those in need of childcare assistance. Panelists included pregnancy resource center professionals and clients.
The first panel consisted of three women, Amy Scheuring, Executive Director of Women’s Choice Network, Jill Hartman, Executive Director of A Woman’s Concern, and Chelsey Youman, National Legislative Advisor and Texas State Director of Human Coalition.
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Panelists stressed the value of the services offered in their facilities, emphasizing the critical importance of ultrasounds for women in the early stages of pregnancy. These ultrasounds can detect ectopic pregnancies, miscarriages, and other pregnancy complications, allowing for early intervention. Scheuring emphasized that Women’s Choice Network has doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals on site to provide these services.
According to the panelists, pregnancy resource centers also provide STD testing, parenting classes, OBGYN services, adoption resources, abortion education, abortion pill reversal, and post-abortion care. Youman added that, in addition to in-person services, Human Coalition allows clients to meet with nurses virtually to discuss their needs.
Hartman rebuffed claims that pregnancy resource centers are “deceptive” regarding the services they provide, highlighting that A Woman’s Concern states on the organization’s website, on appointment forms, and during phone calls with clients that they do not perform abortions.
Most clients, Hartman stated, come into A Woman’s Concern already having decided to parent, but lack the resources to do so, or need access to medical care.
“Low-income women who choose to parent deserve support,” said Hartman.
Pregnancy resource centers play an integral role in the health of children and families in our communities.
The panelists also affirmed that pregnancy resource centers provide assistance to new mothers and pregnant women struggling to keep up with daily chores and responsibilities while trying to care for, or prepare for the arrival of, their child. Scheuring stated that Women’s Choice Network has helped new and expectant mothers with laundry, lawn care, car repairs, job-seeking, housing, and childcare.
The second panel consisted of four pregnancy resource center clients from Women’s Choice Network and A Woman’s Concern. All clients who testified stressed the positive influence of the services they received including parenting classes, OBGYN services, emotional support, baby supplies, and more.
The panelists emphasized the sense of community shared between staff members and clients in their respective programs. Nicholas Luccarella, a participant in the Courageous Dads program at A Woman’s Concern, described the group as a “a place with a purpose.” With the friendship and support of other fathers in the program, Luccarella feels as though he has matured as a dad and encouraged other men to get involved in similar programs.
When asked by the committee how pregnancy resource centers ought to improve their services, the panelists suggested that programs offered up until a year after birth should be extended. They also suggested that pregnancy resource centers offer brochures at doctor’s offices and on college campuses so those who choose to parent and are in need of assistance have access to the services they provide.
At the conclusion of the hearing, Rep. Klunk stated, “Pregnancy resource centers play an integral role in the health of children and families in our communities. The testimony we heard during today’s hearing was powerful, and it made it clear these centers do a world of good. The people who staff them go above and beyond their job description to aid and encourage Pennsylvania families.”
Olivia DeMarco is an Editorial Associate for Broad + Liberty. She previously served as a legislative aide in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. She holds a Masters in Public Policy from Temple University.