A coalition of anti-abortion pregnancy centers in West Virginia has been selected to lead a $1 million grant program.

A group in West Virginia called the coalition is being given $1 million of public funds to disperse to organizations that work to promote childbirth instead of abortion.

The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources has announced that the West Virginia Pregnancy Center Coalition will be in charge of overseeing the state’s new Mothers and Babies Support Program.

According to officials, the program was approved by the state Legislature, which is primarily controlled by the Republican party, and Governor Jim Justice earlier this year. Its purpose is to provide assistance to pregnant women and families in response to the state’s near-total abortion ban that was passed in September 2022.

Jenny Entsminger, Executive Director of the West Virginia Pregnancy Center Coalition, expressed her appreciation for Governor Justice and other state officials for acknowledging the importance of providing practical assistance to pregnant women and families in our state. This support is crucial in ensuring safe and nurturing care for infants in West Virginia.

In a press release, Justice expressed confidence in the Pregnancy Center Coalition to effectively manage and distribute this program, which will offer crucial assistance to expecting mothers and families with young babies.

Dr. Matthew Christiansen, the State Health Officer of West Virginia, announced that the initiative will offer various forms of support such as medical treatment, guidance on parenting and life skills, financial aid, and necessary items for babies.

Funding from this program is accessible for pregnancy centers that do not support abortion, accommodations for pregnant women, agencies that facilitate adoptions, and organizations that promote pro-life social services.

The legislation forbids groups from accepting monetary support for activities that involve or promote abortion, or from being connected with organizations that do so.

The news follows the decision of Pennsylvania’s newly-elected Democratic governor to terminate the state’s longstanding agreement with Real Alternatives, a pro-life organization that has received substantial government funding for their anti-abortion counseling facilities.

Following the Supreme Court’s decision to revoke constitutional protections for abortion in 2022, legislators in predominantly red states have allocated significant funds to organizations that aim to dissuade women from seeking abortions. These organizations, often referred to as pregnancy resources or crisis pregnancy centers, have received millions of dollars in funding.

Frequently associated with religion, the anti-abortion centers are unlicensed and do not offer medical services like prenatal or postnatal care to uninsured women. In contrast, clinics that provide abortions must adhere to strict government regulations and laws protecting patient privacy. These centers may have nurses on staff or as volunteers at times.

As the overseeing body of the West Virginia program, the West Virginia Pregnancy Center Coalition must adhere to legal regulations in order to set criteria for organizations to obtain funding, promote the program, and enter into contracts for services.

In order to be eligible for financial support, organizations must be non-profit and offer regular training and evaluations for both employees and volunteers. They must also have policies in place for reporting child abuse, handling medical emergencies, and addressing client complaints.

The West Virginia Pregnancy Center Coalition must create guidelines for reporting and implement an auditing process.