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. Lori

    A new way to get a college scholarship! And to think, my daughter has wasted her time getting straight A's, playing sports, doing community service, doing research, and working until midnight every night. We make too much money to qualify for an Ivy League scholarship, but now there are new opportunities for her to get one!

    July 4, 2010 at 12:22 am |
  2. fedupwithfundinglaziness

    if any of you that support this measure would come to one south texas town and live among us for a while, you'd see that most of these teen parents are not poor victims of a broken system that failed them. they're living high off the hog with better homes, cars, furniture, and more food than those of us who bust our as$@$ at a PROFESSIONAL 8 to 5. there are so many people out there (and here) who abuse the system and sit at home doing nothing but popping out babies and or running drugs and living off the money i work hard to make. you want to talk about greed???? come down here, and you'll see it for what it really is. at least conservatives WORK to fund our own so-called greediness. part of those teen parenting funds should be for paying those kids to do some REAL work, and not the kind that requires them to lie on their backs!!!!! i'm SICK of it! i challenge you to come down her for just a week and see just how "broken" the system really is!!!!!!!

    July 4, 2010 at 12:21 am |
  3. angie

    Religious Nuts! Let your Churches support them, Not taxpayers.

    July 4, 2010 at 12:18 am |
    • Kevin

      I agree. The governments job is to make laws protecting individuals from any crime commited against them, and enforcing them. Nothing more. You could make a case that our military actions, us trying to save the world are in our and the worlds best intrest. Fair enough. But I should not be forced to give to charity. This is not the governments job, please see the first sentance. For you people that think welfare is a good idea, guess what? You are FREE to give! But forcing me to work for other people is not freedom.

      July 4, 2010 at 12:21 am |
    • consrvuhtive

      I'll go along with that angie. Individuals and churches should be the ones taking care of babies that need to be adopted or parents that need help. Gov't should keep their fingers out of it.

      July 4, 2010 at 2:38 am |
  4. Testmo

    Wow is this "belief blog" really the place for so much racist biggotry? I think it is time for everyone and all news media to stop quoting Focus on the Family. Short of MMS I can't think of another organization or agency that has been through so much perverted scandal.

    July 4, 2010 at 12:18 am |
    • consrvuhtive

      What did FotF say that was racist here? In fact they didn't even say they were opposed to the spending. They just were refuting that it's common ground on abortion. Which is true. It doesn't address abortion as an issue of morality. I guess it is an admission of sorts that abortion is not a desirable thing, but that's not really news.

      July 4, 2010 at 2:35 am |
  5. michelle

    My daughter just graduated from high school. She is going to College in August. She did not get pregnant while in high school, so she's not eligible for this money, but those that didn't do what was right are able to get extra money from "Me" so that I have to pay for my daughter plus these others. This isn't right.

    July 4, 2010 at 12:17 am |
    • Lynn

      Exactly. We live in one F'd up world.

      July 4, 2010 at 12:28 am |
    • fedupwithfundinglaziness

      agreed! it's unfair that hard-working students whose parents did the right thing and made their own living, don't get the opportunity to apply for scholarships. those of us who funded laziness for all these years, should just quit our jobs and let the government take care of us, too. maybe THEN i'll get my SUV, iPhone, and flat-screen t.v.!!!

      July 4, 2010 at 12:39 am |
  6. angie

    Lynn, In this country you have to be a criminal,Illegal or Happy being on Welfare to get ahead.

    July 4, 2010 at 12:15 am |
  7. angie

    My friend has 3 daughters all have 3 kids, different daddies. No one works. I would gladly pay for each and everyone of the abortions. When is this going to end. Where is all the money that knappy head is gladly giving away coming from?

    July 4, 2010 at 12:10 am |
    • consrvuhtive

      so you can look at your friends grand kids and say "You should have been aborted." That seems pretty cold. For their sakes, I hope they, their mothers, and grandmother disagree. An unwanted pregnancy is a bad thing but buckling down and dealing with your responsibilities is the solution... not killing the blameless life.

      July 4, 2010 at 2:29 am |
  8. IronRider

    Abortion is such a hot topic both politically and religiously. Hard choices to make on everyones part, especially the expecting. Supporting women who would not otherwise be able to support the child or themselves and giving them incentive to succeed in life is a step in the right direction.

    I support the theory of "Intelligent Design".

    July 4, 2010 at 12:10 am |
  9. Lynn

    I hate to sound crude but do these pregnant teens really want to graduate and go to colledge? I have a 17 year old boy and a 13 year old boy who have not gotten anyone pregnant and are straight A students because they know they have to get a good education in order to support a family. It would sure be nice for Obama to hand out some money to the people that actually deserve it and may make a difference.

    July 4, 2010 at 12:08 am |
    • Kevin

      They have to get a good education to support other families! The governments job is to make laws protecting individuals from any crime commited against them, and enforcing them. Nothing more. You could make a case that our military actions, us trying to save the world are in our and the worlds best intrest. Fair enough. But I should not be forced to give to charity. This is not the governments job, please see the first sentance. For you people that think welfare is a good idea, guess what? You are FREE to give! But forcing me to work for other people is not freedom.

      July 4, 2010 at 12:24 am |
  10. sagebrush

    Your tax dollars at work. Obama seems to get us closer to Socialism every day. Free health care for teenagers who become pregnant of their own free will. Apparently there is no end to the blatant abuse of taxpayer money. Does anyone really believe that this is an area for government meddling. And we know that this type of program will be ripe for fraud as are all types of welfare.

    July 4, 2010 at 12:03 am |
  11. Jeff

    I agree with Nick, Why the fuck my tax money?? I planned and work hard at my job, but i dont get free money... Where the fuck is my money fucking retartds! That should be the real debate here.

    July 3, 2010 at 11:47 pm |
  12. debra

    Please! We already have programs up the yazoo to support pregnant teens and unwed teen moms. Even coming out to the house to check on the kids and see how they are doing. Food stamps, welfare, programs to get free education, child care while doing that, it doesn't matter. Most of the flitter it away and do not take advantage of what they have got going for them and I know, I work in it every single day. This money will go right down the crapper. There are already plenty of programs in place to help and it is wasted. Most just sit on their duff and expect more.

    July 3, 2010 at 11:43 pm |
  13. rob

    Nursehope wrote :Murder only applies to the living. Fetuses are incapable of LIVING outside the womb before 28-30 weeks gestation.

    That is why my best friend gave birth to a perfectly healthy 24 week baby boy who is now almost a year old and doing great! Go back and get an education.

    July 3, 2010 at 11:33 pm |
    • sagebrush

      Go back and get an education? Why didn't your friend get her education first and then have a child? Now the taxpayers will have to pay for her mistakes and choice of life style.

      July 4, 2010 at 12:08 am |
    • consrvuhtive

      Sage (inapt name), she didn't say her friend had an unwanted pregnancy. She said her friend had a premie... don't know that there are any moral issues with that.

      July 4, 2010 at 2:22 am |
    • nonesuch

      Has it dawned on you yet that the vast majority of abortions occur LONG before 24 weeks? No, of course it hasn't. You'd rather wring your hands about the "innocent unborn" than actually acknowledge the reality.

      July 4, 2010 at 6:03 pm |
    • Mike

      How long was the baby on life support before it was able to sustain itself. You do not call something alive that cannot live without assistance from a machine. That's not a life; that's a vegetable. If this is the case you are committing murder every time you pluck a vegetable from your garden.

      July 6, 2010 at 2:11 pm |
  14. Nick

    Yea, keep spending my tax money on these losers. Great job Mr. President, glad to see we're rewarding stupidity

    July 3, 2010 at 11:32 pm |
  15. Nancy

    You've got to be kidding! Tax payer dollars for teens that are irresponsible and will only take the money to buy cell phones instead of actually following through with getting education. I know how federal grants work. There will be no one held accoutable if teens don't improve their lives: just another 25 million down the drain. I'm interested to see how right wing christian conservative wackos deal with this issue since they LOVE anything pro life but HATE social service programs. Quite a conundrum for them.

    July 3, 2010 at 11:27 pm |
    • Mad Jayhawk

      Well, we know how the liberals will respond to this proposal don't we? Liberal Happiness = spending money we don't have on more and more entitlements that will, over the years, grow and grow and grow.

      July 4, 2010 at 1:26 am |
  16. Johnny Five

    Wow, until now I had not proof of what Obama was doing. Now it is obvious. These programs are EXACTLY like the soviet style communism programs to get people to stay unmarried and raise comrades. Sounds crazy? Well, you won't know because you're in the show. Only those who search for truth or outside the US can see what we are becoming. Stop it before you turn red.

    July 3, 2010 at 11:10 pm |
  17. Dan

    Oh great. There will be more mouths for the tax payers to feed. Keep taking away reasons to use birth control, Nobama. Brilliant.

    July 3, 2010 at 11:08 pm |
    • Nancy

      Obama has been forced to do this (and I'm speaking of this situation only) because of the right wing, Bible banging, ignorant Christians (Catholics especially) that think using birth control is interfering with the will of God (yet they have no problem with invitro fertilization). Thank them for this waste of 25 million.

      July 3, 2010 at 11:32 pm |
  18. C2

    Haven't read all the posts yet, so this may have already been said: How about just don't get pregnant?! This is a choice. Pay your own consequences for your choices. I don't want to pay for other people's stupidity. And before anyone can say, "but what about the folks who can't get free contraception?", I say too bad, so sad. Sex isn't a right, it's a responsibility. Teach it and live it.

    July 3, 2010 at 10:33 pm |
  19. Victoria

    Unfortunately 25 million dollars is not a large enough figure to support all of the children that would result if the parents had not chosen abortion. Obama has good intentions with this money but .5 million to each state is a joke, it is almost better to take this money and pay for condoms. Yes I know advocates against abstinence would argue that is encouraging sex, but if the sex is already is taking place the likelihood of disease and pregnancy will drastically reduce over an extended period of time.

    If the idea is to ban abortion, resources need to be directed toward government care of these children. Oddly enough many people that oppose abortion also oppose extension of welfare benefits which would be needed to raise the child through either maternal care giving or in the cases of the mother having no desire a third party such as foster care.

    I really do not think anyone can accurately judge the actions of a person that obtains an abortion. Is it better for a female to have a child when the father is verbally, mentally, and physically abusive? In order to place that child up for adoption the known father would have to consent to the adoption proceedings. Being a female I would not object to getting an abortion or as some put it become a murderer to protect myself and the hypothetical child from the torture that this person could inflict. This being one of the many situations that many pro-life supporters refuse to acknowledge or even have a deep understanding as to the thoughts that go through a woman's mind before actually going through with an abortion. I can list at least a dozen reasons that are used by females when making the choice to keep or abort a fetus. I can think of very few people that actually embrace the idea of abortion, but feel as though a woman deserves the right to choose what is correct for their life.

    July 3, 2010 at 10:24 pm |
  20. STL818

    So wait, the administrators for schools that hand out condoms get vilified in the press, but THIS IS OK???? COMMON SENSE FAIL!!!!!!!!!!!!

    July 3, 2010 at 10:09 pm |
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