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. DebWestport

    So now we will in effect, reward the behavior?
    Enable the tragedy that is unplanned/unwanted pregnancy?
    Set aside monies for the end result of under educated young people?
    Teach them earlier! Teach them Personal responsibility!!!!

    July 3, 2010 at 10:00 pm |
    • Nancy

      Well said. This will do nothing to provide better lives for teens and their children. It's just a Band-aid for the lack of responsibility that many teens have. They'll just waste this money, then rely on more social services when they age out of this program. Why would they spend the time and effort to get an education when they can get everything for free f they remain on welfare? t's called enabling and it's too darn easy to abuse the system in the US.

      July 3, 2010 at 11:37 pm |
  2. David crandall

    I wish the government would stop providing funding for "violence against women". It's a scandle against men and breaks up marriages. They are the ones who cause the violence and then run to shelters to get free money, steal the kids and the house. The police and lawyers perpetuate the scam and get more money from the federal government. Men are arrested and thrown in jail when they are forced to defend themselves.

    July 3, 2010 at 10:00 pm |
  3. Stop the spending

    Lets get to the route of most issues this country as to why this country is so divided, money. Just like a marriage, when there are money issues or large unresolved issues people fight. How about we stop spending money we don't have. The federal Government is taking over EVERYTHING! Health Care, Auto industry bailout, Student Loan take over, housing bailout next on the list Wall Street and legalizing people that break the law on a daily basis. We have no money to pay for anything. Let's balance the budget and then talk about programs and debate things. But for now lets STOP SPENDING and make tough choices and get our country out of debt.

    July 3, 2010 at 9:52 pm |
  4. Jeremy B

    I'm glad my unborn grandchildren get to pay for not only irresponsible spending, but also irresponsible parents. When do I get my free government assistance for being responsible?

    July 3, 2010 at 9:36 pm |
  5. steve

    if the Youth knew how to avoid getting pregnant there would be no Abortion in the first Place!

    are you serious ? by the time I was thirteen, I knew not what to do. getting prego is no accident

    July 3, 2010 at 9:33 pm |
    • SarahK

      I agree with you. The larger problem is teens who want to get pregnant and have the government take care of them. Now in Baltimore, over 65% of families are single parent families....now of course not all of them are teenagers, but the rate of teenage mothers is rapidly increasing. What is so disturbing is many of them have chosen this way of life. WHen are we going to face that problem???

      July 3, 2010 at 9:37 pm |
    • Kaili Lynn

      Thank you Matt! Hit the nail on the heads!!

      July 4, 2010 at 2:33 pm |
  6. SarahK

    What about the girls who choose not to use birth control and choose to have babies when they are teenagers. THis is an important issue to address and one that is brining down the city of Baltimore.

    July 3, 2010 at 9:28 pm |
  7. Ashley

    I am not supportive of this setting aside money for teen parents. I think it is ridiculous that other people should have to pay for others' mistakes. It's called using birth control, a condom, or better yet, they should just keep their legs closed. To be honest, I think if they are setting aside money for stuff like this, then they should be rewarding people for choosing abstinence, not rewarding people for making poor decisions.

    July 3, 2010 at 9:10 pm |
    • steve

      yes, not getting knocked up in high school should be the goal, not who is going to help pay for the little 'mistakes'.

      these girls hardly ever get anywhere in life, the 'fathers of the kids' pay almost never, and the cycle repeats.

      July 3, 2010 at 9:46 pm |
    • consrvuhtive

      Ashley, I agree with your thinking about highschool girls (and others for that matter) being responsible for their actions, but it takes 2 to tango, so to speak. Guys should also be held responsible.

      If ppl had to deal with the real consequences of pregnancies that they weren't prepared for, more of them would think twice about allowing themselves to get into sticky situations.

      July 4, 2010 at 2:15 am |
  8. nov now

    I am a woman and I have a uterus, so I can comment. I have also had an abortion. Now, years later, it still haunts me. I can't help but wonder what beautiful life I chose to end and, yes, a fetus is a life. I chose, for one day, to play God and end a precious life. Why, because I did not want to take responsibility for being permiscuous. It is not all about him 'keeping his buddy' in his pants; it is also about keeping her legs closed. Today's society is all about 'if it feels good – do it" and do what ever you need to avoid the consequences. I did that once and now the ghost of that baby will follow me the rest of my life. I know, that I will stand before God one day and answer for such a grossly selfish decision. Go ahead choose to play and then run from the responsibility, but one day it will be time to pay the piper. And, yes, I will be standing right beside you.

    July 3, 2010 at 9:07 pm |
    • CatholicMom

      Nov Now,
      Your story could not be told by anyone but you; it brought tears to my eyes. Many must be suffering a similar cross and it is so generous of heart for you to tell your story so that perhaps someone else may choose a different path and two lives will be saved from such sadness and pain and death. The Church is a hospital for sinners and it is where I find refuge, where I can confess my sins and be healed...you can, too.

      July 3, 2010 at 10:49 pm |
    • nonesuch

      I don't believe your story for a minute. I doubt you've ever had an abortion.

      July 4, 2010 at 12:39 pm |
    • nov now

      nonesuch-I posted a reply on July 4th but it didn't show up. I can assure you that everthing in my comment is the truth. Your life is your story. I only posted a piece of mine for anyone out there that could relate to it. To some, abortion my be a quick fix but the aftermath to many women is a gapping hole in the soul; a regret that can't be taken back.

      July 5, 2010 at 2:37 pm |
  9. Kelly

    I love paying for other people's poor choices. YAYA!

    July 3, 2010 at 9:01 pm |
  10. Checkmyfact

    Regardless of your political stance on abortion. Everyone would be happier if fewer abortions were necessary. Only a sadist or a psychopath WANTS abortions to take place. Helping women that decide to bring babies to term is a win for everyone. If this program helps those that think they have no choice then I for one welcome the program. I can't imagine anyone that will vote against something like this.

    If you would, please explain the logic to me.

    July 3, 2010 at 8:55 pm |
  11. loudinfl

    I agree that there is no "common ground" about abortion. But I do have a question...
    $25 million to help parents and children in this issue vs $2 billion for solar powered research?
    Umm...solar power has been around for a long time.

    July 3, 2010 at 8:45 pm |
  12. alleycat

    Great way to solve the problem Potus. Just throw some more money at it and hope it will go away.

    July 3, 2010 at 8:42 pm |
  13. CatholicMom

    earthlover, you said.................' people are fanatical because they are sickened by mother's seeking their own children's murder.' Well, yes, that is what abortion is.............mother's seeking death for their baby.

    July 3, 2010 at 8:09 pm |
  14. jim s

    every one of the republican and democrat congressmen and women that voted against health care should now drop there gov funded plan because there plan covers abortion but we know they wont and we know they cant because there is no policy out there that doesnt have some abortion coverage there vote against health care was political not moral and we the people that need health care know why they voted the way the did it was purely partisan and the people dont matter and the country doesnt matter to these part tjme moralists

    July 3, 2010 at 5:35 pm |
  15. peace2all

    @earthlover..... I understand, but you are still not addressing the fact that the abortion issue is still top#1 priority over the much bigger and larger issues and sufferings that are going on today by MILLIONS, AND MILLIONS OF PEOPLE. I think that 'fanatics' moral priorities are way out of line.....abortion#1...come on, I think you know this is true.....not that it shouldn't be something to make better....absolutely. But how did this somehow become a bigger priority than anything else...?

    July 3, 2010 at 4:22 pm |
    • earthlover

      i agree with you that it seems to be their number one priority. we are disagreeing about whether it should or shouldnt be. now because we are talking about Christians- and they claim to be serving Jesus, who tells them that being willing to give up all their possessions as a prerequisite to following HIm, i believe that they shouldn't lower their urgency on abortion, but increase their urgency on the other issues you are talking about. we agree on the balancing of the issues i think.

      July 3, 2010 at 4:33 pm |
    • CatholicMom

      Life is a constant involvement in life issues-searching for a job, working so you can make money; buy groceries and pay all your needs as you go through life and seek happiness. With the aborted baby there is no life to even start with, only lost opportunities to know what life is, no chance to pursue happiness. So which should come first [ or be #1 on the list of importance] LIFE or seeking out the needs of life and pursuing goals? It is obvious, Life should be top priority- without life nothing else matters to a human being.

      July 3, 2010 at 5:35 pm |
    • peace2all

      @CatholicMom..... Your commentary makes absolutely no sense whatsoever...... Last I checked, LIFE on planet earth was growing at an astounding rate.....We have 6 billion on the planet now, and by the end of the century, we are looking at 9 billion.
      Abortion is not stopping any growth of life on the planet......So again no one yet has made ANY comment that proves me wrong that there are much, much larger and bigger issues than religious fanatics priority #1 being abortion...

      July 4, 2010 at 1:49 am |
  16. earthlover

    if fetuses werent 'alive' they wouldn't become the other humans you rightfully care so much about. to me, and the 'fanatics' one of the many problems that need our energies is that people define human life as it is convienent to them- like hitler did. economics motivated him to anhilate people he blamed for his people's troubles. and so do most of the people who abort their preborn children- except the mother had something to do with the child being there.

    July 3, 2010 at 4:11 pm |
  17. peace2all

    @earthlover........You have now changed the context into what I am stating here....Of course, a mother drowning her 4 'alive' children.....yes, that disturbs me greatly....and that proves my point as one of the many, many, many problems that are bigger and larger than abortion, that truly need our energies and attention NOW...

    July 3, 2010 at 4:06 pm |
  18. peace2all

    @earthlover....so the preborn....as in not born....fetuses....you mean..? Because that is the actual term.....Again, seems like some are so focused on what seems to be #1 issue...abortion......There are Millions of people alive right here, right now.....that are more important, and in much more need of our energies, time and help.....why so much of your energies.....or religious fanatics time is spent on fetuses, when there is so many other more important and bigger issues going on RIGHT NOW IN THE WORLD....?

    July 3, 2010 at 3:41 pm |
    • earthlover

      how about both. why not help both? historically the Christian "fanatics" would rescue the infants abandoned in roman fields and raise them as their own. they were also known for sharing food with their own people and non- Christians. i agree with you that more energy needs to go to helping those who have already been born. but i also say that it is as contemptuous of human life to fight for the preborn. and forgive me for calling humans "preborn." while the term fetus is correct, it is used way too often to euphemize the evil of abortion.

      July 3, 2010 at 3:49 pm |
    • earthlover

      pardon, as contemptuous of human life to fight for the preborn to be killed when s/he loses the polularity contest with his/her mother.

      July 3, 2010 at 3:50 pm |
    • peace2all

      @earthlover........ I think that there are attempts being made to certainly help 'both.' My point is that it seems that there is a very large religious fanatical group...lets call them....that their MAIN priority is about abortions, when there are so many,many more larger and bigger issues undeniably in need of our attention on this planet NOW...!

      July 3, 2010 at 3:54 pm |
    • earthlover

      they're fanatical because they are sickened by mother's seeking their own children's murder. that is pretty disturbing. are you disturbed when a mother who hears voices drowns her 4 children?

      July 3, 2010 at 4:01 pm |
  19. CatholicMom

    CAnderson, You said…………………….

    ‘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’

    Some kids end up a statistic just before their birthday by abortion. We need to work on poverty all around the world. Murder does not tear down poverty.
    A woman has the right to control her reproductive rights--so why doesn’t she control them? Stay out of situations where she may become pregnant. She doesn’t have to pleasure herself and then kill the baby that comes from her selfish act.

    July 3, 2010 at 2:59 pm |
    • earthlover

      "there are too many kids being born into poverty..."

      sorry kid- you're poor. and so a doctor will kill you. brilliant.

      July 3, 2010 at 3:02 pm |
    • peace2all

      @CatholicMom......Left you a reply earlier to your posting (july 3rd 8:52 am.) I responded to your post right after....please read, as I can see your misplaced energies on this issue must be tough. Energies spent elsewhere might be more morally and socially and....spiritually beneficial to you and to ALL HUMANS..

      July 3, 2010 at 3:19 pm |
    • earthlover

      all humans, except for the most defenseless ones...

      July 3, 2010 at 3:27 pm |
    • peace2all

      @earthlover......Should I assume that you mean the "most defenseless ones....." As the MILLIONS of young children all over the planet that we should be attending too....?

      July 3, 2010 at 3:33 pm |
    • earthlover

      yeah. the millions you're talking about- the born ones. and the one's im talking about- the preborn ones.

      July 3, 2010 at 3:35 pm |
  20. peace2all

    @Catholic Mom.....Please see my reply to your posting to my reply earlier....

    July 3, 2010 at 2:18 pm |
    • CatholicMom

      Catholic Charities provide help and create hope for over 9 million people each year regardless of religious, social, or economic backgrounds just in the USA. There is similar help around the world by other Catholic organizations.

      We each must do our part in helping; starting with a heart that calls us to do this work; when we do for others whether monetarily or by volunteering our time, it is Christ working through us. We are His hands and feet on this earth now.

      Would Jesus Christ open an abortion clinic?

      July 3, 2010 at 3:19 pm |
    • peace2all

      @CatholicMom......Any help is certainly well and good......But, the 'reasons' behind catholic charities is certainly suspect. To your question, "would Jesus Christ open an abortion clinic..?" I don't know and truthfully.....neither DO YOU....?! And...Jesus was not a Dr..... but maybe he would help perform abortion miracles, so the pregnant women would not have to go through any of the situation....

      July 3, 2010 at 3:26 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.