July 2nd, 2010
05:07 PM ET

White House ties new pregnancy assistance fund to 'common ground' abortion plan

President Obama and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in June.

The Health and Human Services Department announced Friday that it is making $25 million available to states to support pregnant women and teen parents, in an initiative that the White House is framing as a way to find common ground on abortion.

The new federal Pregnancy Assistance Fund will award grants to states aimed at providing pregnant women and teen parents support for completing high school or college degrees and for getting health care, child care and housing, HHS said in a news release Friday.

The grants can also be used to combat violence against pregnant women, the release said.

In an e-mail announcing the initiative to nonprofit groups on Friday, the Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships at HHS tied the new fund to the abortion issue.

"It was only a year ago that President Obama gave a seminal speech at Notre Dame urging our nation to find common ground on the issue of abortion and unintended pregnancies," said the e-mail, which was obtained by CNN.

"The Pregnancy Assistance Fund is a competitive grant program established by the Affordable Care Act to assist women who have decided to carry their pregnancies to term and those who are parenting," the e-mail continued. "...This funding is another critical step in the President's vision for common ground."

HHS did not mention abortion in its Friday news release on the establishment of the fund, which was created by the health care bill that Obama signed in March.

"The opportunity created by the Affordable Care Act will provide States and Tribes needed assistance to support vulnerable teens and women who are pregnant and parenting," HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in the news release.

"The Pregnancy Assistance Fund provides States the opportunity to link these families to health, education, child care, and other supports that can help brighten the futures of parents and their children," she said.

Moderate religious groups hailed the measure as an important way for the White House to deliver on its goal of reducing the need for abortion, which Obama articulated last year in establishing the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

"Pro-life and pro-choice people have gotten behind it so it's a good first step at reducing abortion and providing support for healthier babes and mothers," said Kristen Day, executive director of the antiabortion group Democrats for Life of America. "Once we show how effective this is we can go back and expand this program."

Day, who has consulted with the White House on reproductive health issues, said the new fund also had political benefits for Democrats. "We've been working on common ground around abortion for a long time because we want to take it away as a wedge issue," she said.

The Planned Parenthood Federation of America also indicated that it supported the measure.

But conservative anti-abortion groups greeted the announcement of the Pregnancy Assistance Fund more skeptically.

"This money is mandated for services for pregnant teens and women - violence prevention, vocational training," said Carrie Gordon Earll, a spokeswoman for CitizenLink, the public policy arm of the evangelical group Focus on the Family. "It would be inaccurate to characterize it as 'abortion common ground' since it doesn't specifically address abortion."

The new health care law appropriates $25 million for the Pregnancy Assistance Fund each year through 2019, according to HHS. The grants will be awarded competitively.

When Obama established the Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships in February 2009, the White House said that "it will be one voice among several in the administration that will look at how we support women and children, address teenage pregnancy, and reduce the need for abortion."

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Abortion • Barack Obama • Culture wars • Health care • Politics

soundoff (323 Responses)
  1. Reality

    With respect to B. Obama, the leader of the Immoral Majority and what he should realize about the health of women:

    The pill fails to protect women 8.7% during the first year of use resulting in 1,020,000 unwanted pregnancies during the first year of pill use.

    For male con-- (failure rate of 17.4 and 18% use level), there are approximately 1,200,000 unwanted pregnancies during the first year of male condom use.

    Tthe perfect use of the pill should result in a 0.3% failure rate (35,000 unwanted pregnancies/yr) and for the male condom, a 2% failure rate (138,000 unwanted pregnancies/yr) .

    The annual USA abortion death rate (CDC) is approximately one million/yr meaning there are over one million unwanted children born alive every year in the USA but it appears the USA citizenship continues to thrive.

    July 3, 2010 at 2:13 pm |
    • peace2all

      @Reality......And your main point is.....?

      July 3, 2010 at 2:29 pm |
    • SarahK

      Reality, from where are you getting your statistics...I think they are flawed.

      July 3, 2010 at 9:34 pm |
    • Reality

      SarahK, Google the statistics and see how that works..

      July 4, 2010 at 8:34 am |
  2. Reality

    So remind me again why we protect fully developed endangered species or these same species in wombs, eggs, or seed but we do not extend the same protections to a growing human? And in some places like India, a growing human female is an endangered species.

    July 3, 2010 at 2:00 pm |
  3. Anth

    it's the woman's choice because it is the woman's body! It's not a public incubator! To lay ownership on someones body is called slavery!

    July 3, 2010 at 1:51 pm |
    • anonymous61

      AAAGGHHH!!! The BODY that gets MURDERED is the unborn child's! When will you people get that through your thick heads!? I'm sick and tired of all this bull about "it's my body." You've already done with your body what you wanted when you got pregnant. Why should an innocent, unborn child be KILLED because you have no control over your actions?

      July 5, 2010 at 10:43 am |
    • Mike


      July 6, 2010 at 2:13 pm |
  4. Owend

    If you want to run a Crisis Pregnancy Center you can tell supporters about the women's lives you are helping and go broke, or talk about abortion horrors and money flows in. If you want win a Republican primary you can talk about providing assistance to those in need and loose, or say you'll stop abortion and win. If you are Screwtape and want to distract Christians from their true commission, give them a just cause that will turn into an end unto itself.

    I am a Christian. I am tired of this manipulation, which is what it has become. So 'abortion is murder'. Fine. This is a murderous, wretched world. We were not commissioned to prevent all murder. We were not commissioned to write legal policy. We were not commissioned to change governments, to change the population's behaviors, or even to make the world righteous. What we were commissioned to do is to spread the good news of Christ, redemption, and salvation to those who would hear. We were also called to care for the widow, the sick, the poor. If you claim Christ, then I challenge you to examine your motives: Has the fight against abortion replaced or distracted you from the true Commission? Has it become your new idol, a new god unto itself?

    July 3, 2010 at 1:35 pm |
  5. caroline

    No mention of adoption. That would be common ground as well. I hate how everyone acts like the only option is abortion or a poor or teen mother raising the baby by herself. More should be done to promote adoption and more should be done to change the laws make the adoption process easier in the United States.

    30-40 years ago, adoption in the US was an easy, affordable process. Infertile couples could easily adopt. There weren't couples bankrupting themselves with fertility treatments, spending 50K going overseas to adopt, etc. All those who say there aren't homes for the babies who are aborted. I disagree. If the US had a sane adoption laws were adoptive parents could easily adopt healthy newborns, there would be no issue what so ever finding homes for the babies not aborted.

    July 3, 2010 at 11:32 am |
    • Testmo

      "Sane adoption laws" like you mean the families that come to us enraged we ask to run background checks!? Getting a child is not like picking out a dress. It's going to be tough. 50k for adoption? You can adopt US children from your own state for free to under $1000. But so many people don't want to be "scrutinized." Adoption is not necessarily the answer for a young girl or woman who does not want to have a baby. You are having a baby if you are then able to give it up for adoption. It is a woman's body, not the state's. I will never hold down a teenage and force her through 9 months of pregnancy, stigma, a failed educaton simply to allow a family to pay for a baby.

      July 4, 2010 at 12:32 am |
  6. Amy Corinne

    Abortion is not something one can find "common ground" over.

    It's about who supports women's right to full health care and who deprives women and girls of full health care. Obama's proposal is ridiculous, sucking up to those who are antiwomen's rights.

    If you don't agree with abortion, then don't have one.

    July 3, 2010 at 11:04 am |
    • anonymous61

      Abortion is about murdering unborn children.

      July 5, 2010 at 10:40 am |
  7. Mike from Texas

    Which party bears more responsibility for current economic problems in the United States? This statement and others like it by the media is why we stay at each others throat. People that live by the party will perish by the party. Unless we stand together to insure our democracy and freedom, we will be swallowed up by others. Today an example is China and Mexico. One is buying us out and the other is invading.

    July 3, 2010 at 10:59 am |
  8. Emily in NC

    This is insulting to the women like myself, who are working two jobs, being responsible, going to school and have never received any help. When is this country going to start rewarding the hard workers and responsible people! This further asserts my belief that I would have been a lot better off getting pregnant, applying for government assistance and expecting the weight of my burden to be carried by every other tax payer in America!

    July 3, 2010 at 10:47 am |
    • Southern Girl

      Emily, I couldn't agree more with you. I live in Georgia and can't tell you how many young people I know that are taught and trained how to use the system. I have worked hard my entire life and have never received assistance from our government. I went to college and had to pay my student loans off. Nowadays, if you have a child, the good ole USA pays not only for your college degree, but extra money to live on! I work with 6 women that can't work but only so many hours and make X amount of money so that they can still get their government money. They receive food stamps, medicaid, housing allowance, college tuition and extra money for expenses instead of actually working for those things. How sickening is that? These programs aren't helping, they are encouraging people to live off our taxes and government.

      July 3, 2010 at 9:50 pm |
  9. Jiko

    There is no common ground to be found on the abortion issue. Pro-choice activists often say they'd like to see abortion legal but rare and think, like Pres. Obama, that offering a few bucks for health services for pregnant woman will reduce their likelihood of aborting their baby. Probably not, though it will help low-income women who've already decided to keep the baby. Pro-life activists focus almost entirely on the legality of abortion, and their approach to reducing the numbers of abortions (besides putting abortionists and pregnant women in jail if they could) is to persuade pregnant women against having an abortion at privately funded "crisis pregnancy" clinics. But offer pregnant women government assistance to carry their baby to term and cover their health care needs? No, that would be socialism! Much worse than abortion! What pro-lifers don't understand is that if Roe v. Wade is ever overturned and the states or federal government make abortion illegal, abortions will continue to be performed. Women won't go looking for back-alley abortionists because they'll use instructions they've found on the internet–risking deadly results for themselves as in the days before Roe v. Wade. But pro-lifers aren't concerned with dead mothers, only dead babies.

    July 3, 2010 at 10:40 am |
    • nwatcher

      Dead mothers made a number of (poor) choices to get there...Dead babies have no say in the matter. Common ground on the abortion issue is truely nonexistant by definition. Either it is ok to kill a baby or it is not. Maybe common ground on how to decrease the percieved need for abortion but the abministration should not be calling it common ground on abortion. Just another word game to make this president look like he is accomplishing something...

      July 3, 2010 at 12:57 pm |
  10. Jen R.

    Christian, you have the right to call me heartless, but you have NO right to dictate what I do w/my body. Your self-righteous BS is wearing on people. I work for 2 volunteer organizations caring for animals and people in need. I don't think I'm "heartless." What do you do? Go to church and judge others like a good "christian"? You're the very type that makes people like me prefer to do volunteer work mostly for animals.

    July 3, 2010 at 10:20 am |
    • jersey

      christians make you like animals more than people? lol, that's one of the funniest things ive read on here. ever. lol.

      July 3, 2010 at 2:22 pm |
    • anonymous61

      Mutilate yourself all you want, but an unborn child is a completely distinct individual. You have no more right to murder an unborn child than I have to come to your home and murder you.

      July 5, 2010 at 10:38 am |
  11. Mike in Texas

    The real common ground would be to agree that abortion should never be used as a form of birth control or a procedure to remove an inconvenience.
    Eugenics and euthanasia based upon preferred health and social viability are areas of contention that the free world abhorred in WWII. These are the issues that are growing and is bringing more contention for the born.

    July 3, 2010 at 9:44 am |
  12. CatholicMom

    Jul 02 – Homily: Tutte Tenebre, copy and paste--this is what we are talking about!

    July 3, 2010 at 9:27 am |
  13. CatholicMom

    Peace2all, you stated………..

    MOST people think that a baby is a gift from God. So you think that God would give you a baby just so you can murder it? If you gave someone the most beautiful gift you could ever give them and they totally trashed it and then threw it back in your face-what would you think?

    July 3, 2010 at 8:52 am |
    • peace2all

      @Catholic Mom..... i have noticed that you have responded to a couple of my postings....thank you.... and I certainly appreciate your sincerity to the issue of abortion......You still did not answer or deal with my questions concerning the larger issues of Millions suffering daily all over the world... You religious fanatics seem to have on the ladder of what is most important, that abortion ranks as #1, and gay relationships as #2, etc....

      Again, still not dealing with all of the true suffering going on NOW....? I think that your moral compass and where you are picking your fights are way out of what is appropriate as to what is most important.....

      July 3, 2010 at 2:16 pm |
    • Idiodcracy

      Like little children suffering at the the hands of the pedofile Catholic clergy and their cover-ups.

      July 3, 2010 at 10:56 pm |
  14. Job

    There is no common ground. Children should be the safest in their mother's womb.

    July 3, 2010 at 8:08 am |
  15. Christian

    I thought Tom's comment could but topped. But Jen R, you are a heartless and uncaring individual. May you receive in life all that you give.

    July 3, 2010 at 8:01 am |

    I would like to see all these anti-abortion folks all run to your nearest foster parent or adoption agency and take in an unwanted child in to your home and raise them. No? Don't want to do that? Mmm, how un-Christian of you. So you only want to talk about the problem and not be part of the solution.

    I hate that abortion has to exist, but I don't think we do enough abortions. I would gladly give my tax dollars for more.
    There are too many kids being born into poverty by uneducated parents and most will just end up a statistic somewhere along the line. It's a woman's right to control her reproductive rights.

    As for socialism comments, I think the people who use the word the most for sure don't even know what they are talking about. Planning on collecting Social Security? Or using Medicare when you retire?
    Guess what that is... Socialism!! I bet you like that socialism!

    July 3, 2010 at 7:54 am |
    • dalis

      It's a special kind of person that can look at a child and only see the abortion they wished had happened.

      July 3, 2010 at 1:07 pm |

    Anything that helps children is good. Wingnuts do'nt care less about kids after birth.

    July 3, 2010 at 7:50 am |
    • nwatcher

      huh? ... It appears you have missed the big picture. It is all about children from conception to birth AND the rest of their life. For some that includes the infirm, handicapped, aged and anyone else who has no say in how they are treated/killed/mutilated/euthanized/disposed of or abused. When is life not valuable?

      July 3, 2010 at 1:03 pm |
  18. BD70

    America = the right to choose. Enough said.

    July 3, 2010 at 5:59 am |
    • CatholicMom

      The right to choose? Finish the sentence….choose what?
      If you are a pregnant woman and you are killed by the hands of another person and your baby dies, too, it is a double homicide. If you are punched in the stomach and your baby dies, it is a homicide. But if the woman chooses to allow the killing of the baby by an abortionist/murderer it is not a homicide. How is that possible in this nation? People go to war and risk their LIVES so we are safe to LIVE as a free country--but not ‘freedom for ALL’. No wonder respect from around the world for our nation is in the dumpster; our actions speak louder than our words.

      July 3, 2010 at 9:09 am |
    • NEW MOM

      the right to choose?... did the baby or fetus get to choose to come in this world? no so who are we to take it out? yes being a single parent is hard or being young and pregnant is hard TRUST ME especially if you dont want it at first but that gives us NO REASON to kill an innocent life. at 5 weeks the fetus has a heartbeat... and it is sad to know that people will kill something that didnt have a choice to come into this world. there is birth control and other things to resort to not killing a life. people disgust me!

      July 4, 2010 at 12:39 pm |
  19. BK_AMDG

    There is no such thing as 'common ground' when it comes to abortion. Either you believe that abortion should be legal (even if you think that it should be used only in certain cases) or you believe in the dignity of life. Abortion is not like taxes, defense spending (or in our case overspending), road repair, unemployment, or anything else. This is an either/or case, not a both/and case. This is not a philosophical, psychological, or moral statement; what I am saying is that abortion is either good or bad, no 'common ground.'

    July 3, 2010 at 3:13 am |
    • patrick

      False choice. No one thinks abortion is a good thing. The common ground is our mutual desire to end unwanted pregnancies.

      July 5, 2010 at 10:24 am |
  20. Guster


    Emmitt, if you see any babies being killed, do call 911. Babies aren't involved in an abortion. Fetuses are, and their 'rights' extend only as far as the woman carrying them chooses to allow.

    Ah, the "fetus" phychobabble. You might want to inform the state of California they were wrong in charging Scott Peterson with double murder after killing Laci and their unborn son. According to your logic he should have been charged with murdering his wife who happened to have a blob of tissue growing inside. Hypocricy knows no bounds.

    July 3, 2010 at 1:50 am |
    • swan

      If I had been on that jury, I most certainly would have. It was a trumped-up charge to make sure Scott Peterson got the death penalty. Unfortunately, I don't live in California, so I have no say over their laws.

      July 4, 2010 at 3:43 am |
    • Mary

      If someone stabs a pregnant woman, killing the life growing in her, would you call that a fetus or a baby?

      July 5, 2010 at 5:23 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.