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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. Greg

    Why is it in the Country that we reward people for making bad choices? Bought a house you could never afford–no problem, we will bail you out. Unemployed watching Oprah on the couch for over two years? No problem, we will continue your benefits. Single mom with seven kids decides to have an eighth? No worries, we will increase your medicaid. And now if you want a college grant (not even a loan but a grant) all you have to do is get knocked up and carry it to term. When will we come to our senses?

    July 4, 2010 at 8:36 am |
  2. Reality

    Once again, 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 4, 2010 at 8:36 am |
    • nonesuch

      When have we ever punished a bird for kicking an egg out of its nest? Do we try to prevent rabbits from reabsorbing their fetuses when food is in short supply?

      July 4, 2010 at 12:57 pm |
    • consrvuhtive

      Because human life is really not more valuable than a birds life. We should legislate the birds. For that matter we should make all the animals go vegetarian, so they don't murder each other. Oh wait, plants are living beings too. What about their rights?

      Humans are not on the same level as other living creatures.

      July 4, 2010 at 3:01 pm |
    • nonesuch

      No, they aren't, con. That's why the female of THIS species has rights to her body.

      July 4, 2010 at 5:36 pm |
    • consrvuhtive

      and unborn babies don't have rights. Only adults.

      July 4, 2010 at 6:27 pm |
    • nonesuch

      Correct, dear. Fetuses do not have rights.

      July 4, 2010 at 6:43 pm |
    • anonymous61

      @consrvuhtive for "and unborn babies don't have rights. Only adults."

      Uh, wanna try re-stating that? Don't children have rights too? At what point do people acquire rights in your fantasy? They are HUMAN rights – you have them because you're HUMAN, and that includes unborn children.

      July 5, 2010 at 10:50 am |
  3. consrvuhtive

    I guess the only thing that would work for "ultimate moral authority" for me would be God or something that acted just like him. Other than that, an individual (myself or someone else) is the authority. If it's me, then I can do what I want, and you can't tell me I'm wrong. If it's someone else, it's just because he has a bigger stick and that doesn't seem right either.

    July 4, 2010 at 4:18 am |
  4. Coach Lew

    I think it is terrible for a young girl to get pregnant becuase there are so many ways to prevent it from happening from abstaining, the pill, the morning after pill, condoms, and you name it's. Whay are these young girls getting pregnant? Some are getting that way because it is like having a job. The Government pays so much for each child plus all the freebies you get along with Medicaid. It's about time we say hey girls, you can have one child out of wedlock but when you have the second and third/fourth/fifth, you are no longer getting everything you got for free anymore. No more Medicaid, food stamps, or free this or that. You have literally screwed yourself out of everything.

    July 4, 2010 at 3:33 am |
    • Kaili Lynn

      Totally agree.

      July 4, 2010 at 2:22 pm |
  5. consrvuhtive

    Your reference to "ultimate moral authority" intrigues me. Who, after all does have ultimate moral authority?

    The individual? So if I decide that stealing someone's car is right for me, nobody else should have a problem with it.

    The majority? Like your mother always said, "If everyone is jumping off of a bridge, does that mean you should too?"

    A judge or the president? Aren't they people just like me? Why does someone else have the right to decide what is right for me? Is it just because they have a bigger stick and can force me to do what they want?

    Well then, where does ultimate moral authority come from?

    July 4, 2010 at 3:32 am |
    • nonesuch

      Your questions are moot. Morality does not make law. Laws are made to safeguard our freedoms and rights and to protect us, not to make us moral. Morality is subjective. You believe abortion to morally wrong. I do not. Why should your morality hold sway? Some people believe it's immoral to drink. Does that mean it should be illegal? It is illegal to murder someone not because it's immoral but because murdering someone infringes on his right to life. Fetuses have no such right legally. If they did, then women would lose their right to bodily autonomy and would become second-class citizens. If a fetus needed surgery in utero, and the woman carrying it did not want it, she could be forced to have the procedure against her will. She would be deprived of her rights in favor of the fetus.

      Abortion is not a moral issue, except for the individual woman. It is her decision and not one for the rest of society to make.

      July 4, 2010 at 12:53 pm |
    • consrvuhtive

      The line you draw is only in your own mind. Laws are purely about morality. The difference is that your morality happens to be closer to the law than mine. If the tables were switched, you would be complaining that the law was not moral and should be changed.
      When a person (man OR woman) puts them selves in a position where they might become a parent, they take on a responsibility to care for the being thus conceived. If they didn't want it or couldn't support it, they should wait until they can or want.
      I do think a big chunk of the argument comes from the fact that we make only the woman responsible for it. It's pretty much unavoidable, that she has the responsibility of actually carrying the baby, but the father needs to be held responsible as well. It's a big load to carry.

      July 4, 2010 at 2:49 pm |
    • nonesuch

      No, dear, the laws are not about morality, as I just showed you. You are simply not able to wrap your little brain around the concept that morals vary. Laws determine not what is "right" or "wrong" according to some absolute. They simply protect us and preserve our rights. You can argue the point all you wish, but it won't make you correct. Morality is not the only basis for law. Never has been.

      July 4, 2010 at 5:42 pm |
    • nonesuch

      And as long as the woman is the only person who bears the risks and burdens of pregnancy and childbirth, men have no place in the argument. If you don't like abortion, then you can use a condom. If you don't, and the woman gets pregnant, you are not in any position to have any say over her decision whatsoever.

      So either zip it or sheath it.

      July 4, 2010 at 5:44 pm |
    • josephine

      and if you see a murder in front of your house, ignore it. if you hate murder so much, don't shoot someone.

      July 4, 2010 at 6:58 pm |
    • nonesuch

      Figures you can't see the difference between murder and abortion, numbskull. A murder infringes on the rights of a person already born. An abortion does not.

      Get it? No, probably not.

      July 4, 2010 at 7:07 pm |
  6. Seriously?!

    Are you freakin' kidding me?! I'm 34 and don't have kids because I can't afford them! With the recession, I lost my job and health insurance, and eventually had to move in with my boyfriend because my severance and stock ran out. NOW I find out that all I needed to do was get knocked up right after I lost my job, and I'd be set right now! I'm SO tired of bailouts for the irresponsible! Everything from mortgages to credit card bills – what about those of us that HAVEN'T racked up $10,000 in credit card bills, who haven't had kids that we can't afford to care for and who have struggled and gone without, to make sure that our bills are still paid on time. What about us?! Where is our "free money?"

    July 4, 2010 at 3:25 am |
  7. consrvuhtive

    In any case 25 million is a drop in the bucket either way. It will neither change very much of anything regarding how many women carry babies to term, nor by itself cause taxes to increase very much. It's more a political statement by Obama: "Look, I'm doing SOMETHING. Don't look at everything else that's going on, that is at least partially my doing at this point. Nooo, looky over here. I'm helping poor innocent single mothers. Yay for me."

    July 4, 2010 at 3:07 am |
    • peace2all

      You have made claims to which you have no proof. To make off handed comments "Look over here. I'm helping poor innocent single mothers. Yay for me...as a political statement. ....a misdirection technique....It is possible. But, to state it as if you know.

      Not very intellectually honest there....

      July 4, 2010 at 3:33 am |
    • consrvuhtive

      Well ofc I can't read his mind. But there are a lot of things not going very well for him at the moment. In general, I believe the old joke about knowing when a politician is lying (lips are moving). The political process we have pretty much forces politicians to play every angle and scrabble for all the help and goodwill they can get. So, I guess I'm just trying to see things from his perspective.

      July 4, 2010 at 3:44 am |
    • peace2all

      I understand where you are coming from, but again....."trying to see it from his perspective" is just your perspective really. None of us can say for certain what is truly is going through his mind....

      But again, I understand where you are coming from.....

      July 4, 2010 at 3:54 am |
    • consrvuhtive

      I guess it goes back to my first premise. It won't really make a difference. How quickly will 25 million dollars disappear. By the time you pay people in some agency to make sure the money is distributed appropriately, then try to spread it over the entire country, I'd say the chances of one knowing a person that is helped even in a minor way would be pretty slim. Then on the other side, take 25 million and divide it over 200 million people that might be helping pay for it... so like 13c each on average in a year's time.... most people would take that times 10 or 100 and not know the diff at the end of the year. So either way, why is it such a big deal? That's when I start looking for other motives.

      July 4, 2010 at 4:09 am |
  8. peace2all

    Still using the same old worn out arguements the overly religious are consistently bantering about.....abortion#1 priority....

    Come on.....

    July 4, 2010 at 2:26 am |
    • consrvuhtive

      While it's true that more "religious" people have a problem with abortion than "non-religious" people, like Mad Jayhawk was saying, it's really just a moral issue. Like, "Is it right to steal someone's car if you need it more than they do?" (admittedly taking the life of an unborn child is more serious than stealing a car). I think the reason some people really focus on it so much is because they perceive that it's just as wrong as killing any other human being. In their minds, people who fight for the right to kill an unborn baby, would be just as bad as a person who fought for the right of a serial killer to continue doing what he likes to do.

      July 4, 2010 at 2:55 am |
    • peace2all

      @Consrvuhtive.......Thanks for your attempt....I fully understand all of the arguements that Jay and all of the rest of the believers spout..And no...it is NOT REALLY 'JUST' A MORAL ISSUE.......please see my repsonse to @Mad Jayhawk below your comment to me...then we can have a truly intelligent discussion on this....

      July 4, 2010 at 3:01 am |
    • consrvuhtive

      Just saying, you can make it about all kinds of other things if you want, but it boils down to a choice of morality in the end. Legality SHOULD follow morality. Religion SHOULD be moral.

      July 4, 2010 at 3:14 am |
    • peace2all

      @consrvuhtive......Again, not "trying....to make it about all kinds of things if I want..." Those were just facts. And apparently, given your statement that it just all 'boils down to morality statement.' Well, apparently the laws concerning abortion are then MORAL..... and Religion.....well, whose religion should we base this supposed morality on...?
      And ultimately, who decides what is MORAL........Again, my arguement has been and still is and has gone unanswered that the religious zealots seem to be making abortion priority #1, when there are so many, many other sufferings going on in the world by MILLIONS of people daily....

      So, making abortion evil and satan's doing is just ludicrous.......

      July 4, 2010 at 3:28 am |
    • peace2all

      @consurvuhtive.......That was my question to you....? Also, again, no one has answered the religious zealots making abortion priority#1 while all the other suffering in the world on the bigger and larger stage here goes along as a minor priority or in terms of the morality scale.....lesser than abortion....

      July 4, 2010 at 3:39 am |
    • consrvuhtive

      Not all laws ARE moral. Just because some legislator (or group of them) says a thing is right, doesn't make it so. It SHOULD be, but it's not always the case, because even politicians are just humans. The legislator's aim should be to make laws that are as moral as possible. Saying that a law that has been put in place is moral because it's in place, is putting the law above morality, which is the reverse of what it should be.

      As far as "religious zealots". 1.) The vast majority of them are nice and interesting people you would probably enjoy meeting and be happy to call friends. 2.)

      As far as the who's religion.... the correct one of course. 😛 I could tell you what I believe, but that is definitely something that nobody else can decide for you.

      Again, from the perspective of someone perceives fetuses as unborn children: The practice of killing unborn children carried out to the extent that it is in the US is like we handed a gun to every citizen and said, "You can use this to kill people, but only if they are inconvenient to you and would cause you some discomfort. Go ahead, it's legal."

      July 4, 2010 at 4:55 am |
    • consrvuhtive

      The 4th paragraph should appear after 2) Sorry, it's getting late.

      July 4, 2010 at 4:58 am |
    • consrvuhtive

      meh.. maybe that's too strong. It would probably be more like, "Here's a gun you can use to shoot people but only if they are very inconvenient to you and would cause you lots of discomfort." Anyhow, you get the point.

      July 4, 2010 at 5:07 am |
    • peace2all

      @consrvative......Yeah.....it's late......this will be it for me. But, your equating handing a gun and killing people, or at least your attempt to make abortion = to that is a fallacy of and breakdown of logic and reason. They are not equal in any way shape or form.

      Lets look at Science to answer...... They 'just' came out unequivocally with the conclusion that at 24 weeks(6 months), fetuses cannot even experience any pain. Most abortions are done well before that so to even attempt to call them 'children' is trying to make them into what they are obviously not. In the first several weeks they are considered blastocysts...basically a bunch of cells....and anti-aboritionists make a big deal over that as if..."they are killing children." Do we all want to stem abortions...of course. But, let's not try and keep ratcheting up the language to make them conscious humans at the first few weeks or months when most abortions happen.

      Not to mention.....Thousands of abortions happen every day....By God..!!!!! Not at the hands of humans... So, God is the biggest abortionist of them all... If you want to try and bring God into it....

      Again, consrvhtive....I respect your attempts....

      July 4, 2010 at 5:32 am |
    • consrvuhtive

      The obvious argument to that is, "So you want to draw a line and say in this second this 'blob of cells' is actually a baby but in the second before, it was just a blob of cells." That doesn't make any sense to me. What gives any person the right to make that decision? Does a thing have to be conscious or be able to feel pain to be human?

      About the God thing, it seems to me that you are setting yourself as equal to him. "If he can do it, so can I." If God exists, his very nature means he will do things we don't understand. Why would he create us anyhow? Seems to me that we are a lot more trouble than we would be worth to a being that can do anything at all.

      July 4, 2010 at 11:12 am |
  9. peace2all

    @Mad Jayhawk...
    1)Yes...it IS a Legal issue as there are laws allowing abortions under most circumstances.
    2)Yes...It IS a Religious Issue, as almost all of the religious fanatics are making abortion #1 priority to worry about.
    3)Yes...It IS a Moral issue too........ and as you stated...."You have to decide in your own mind what is moral." Which your comment presupposes CHOICE for anyone to make up their own minds....even some that would disagree with you.

    Your approach seemed to me that you are an extremely close minded person.....given some of your statements. I think that we are all trying to have a dialogue of discussion for ideas that make things better.

    Crematoriums for "little chlidren"....that is what we call a 'euphamism drift in language......Next it will be that we are killing kids......etc...

    Good try though.... and thanks for the open mind.... You know we do have many, many more important issues on the world's list of what to deal with in terms of suffering....abortion should definitely not be #1....

    July 4, 2010 at 2:24 am |
  10. Juli

    We are the strangest country. We give $250 to seniors to buy more drugs while it is said that Americans are over-medicated. We support pregnant teenagers which only seems to reinforce behavior which is not beneficial to them.

    July 4, 2010 at 1:58 am |
  11. Mississippi Ex Pat

    Obama needs to get it together. I voted for Obama. Good guy at heart. But I don't trust none of them fools up there in Washington. The country does not belong to the people anymore. All of these dam liberal policies are making me sick! Bring the good ole Southern Politics back. I bet folks will get right then.

    July 4, 2010 at 1:56 am |
  12. been there done that

    As a teen parent...i can say this...yes, i had access to free pills, condoms etc. i still ended up pregnant. it's up to parents to teach their kids period. don't wait for school, or friends, andr certainly not your boyfriend to teach you about sex.
    it's idiotic to think that more "free condoms" will keep girls from getting pregnant. fact is, most don't like using them-boys and girls and they won't use them period. so go ahead, give them all out you want...but they are not being used.

    everyone needs to get off of their high horse...and realize it's the parent's place to teach about sex ed. not school, not the government. yes, i realize many parents fail their children, just as my mother failed me. she taught me zero about sex! i have since been educated and can assure you the cycle will not be repeated!

    July 4, 2010 at 1:31 am |
  13. BS76

    Here we go again! Just more rewarding people for bad decisions and absconding from personal responsibility. Take away all these handouts and support programs and I guarantee you there will be fewer "accidental" pregnancies. It's the same reason when states become shall-issue that crime often goes down–they bad guys know they're more likely to run into trouble. In this case if they know they'll be stuck with a baby they didn't plan for they'll be sure to think twice about hooking up.

    July 4, 2010 at 1:24 am |
  14. HeIsGod

    Abortion shouldn't be an issue, we have so much ways to keep young ladies and women from getting pregnant.

    TELL THEM AGAIN CLAIRE!!!!!

    July 4, 2010 at 1:23 am |
  15. Mad Jayhawk

    Abortion is not a legal or religious issue. It is a moral issue. Is it morally acceptable for one human being to kill another? That is the question. Clouding the issue by referring to a decision by a court, mindlessly repeating over and over and over illogical words about 'a woman's right to choose' or other such malarkey, or by allowing a book or a preacher/priest/rabbi/Imam to tell us as individuals what is or is not morally wrong is not helpful. You have to decide in your own mind what is moral.

    Killing unborn children is one of the most immoral acts one human being can do to another in my opinion. If you think that it isn't and that it can be justified in your mind by wrapping the whole issue in a cute little wrapper with the words 'a Woman's Right to Choose' on it so you don't have to think about the disgusting moral choice to kill another human being you have made that is something you will have to live with. I really care less what you think and there isn't an argument in existence that could cause me to think that a baby in the womb is not a human being who deserves a chance to live just like you received when your mother thankfully didn't abort you.

    Just don't ask me to pay for supporting the construction of more crematoriums to stuff with the torn bodies of little children.

    July 4, 2010 at 1:18 am |
    • consrvuhtive

      Massive thumbs up Mad

      July 4, 2010 at 2:43 am |
    • nonesuch

      Your approval isn't required. No one cares if you approve of her choices, dear. You're not the one who has to live with the decision. The woman who is pregnant is, and your morality is not law. Never was. Laws are not based on morality but on the protection of rights and freedoms. You don't have the right to dictate to any woman what she should do with her life or her body or the contents thereof.

      July 4, 2010 at 12:45 pm |
  16. Claire

    keeping my legs together always worked for me...

    July 4, 2010 at 1:10 am |
    • BS76

      But that would require personal responsibility and we can't have that in this day and age! /s

      July 4, 2010 at 1:25 am |
    • HeIsGod

      @ BS76 – So it's time to get some real education for them, pronto, seriously! I hate to see young teenagers becoming parents at a very early age. Parents needs to have a tight relationship and communication with their children. I have a teenager, and I have to stay closer to her as much as I can. She knows that she will face consequences if she goes about her life the wrong way and to chose her friends wisely. She doesn't go and comes when ever she wants, she has to be dropped off and picked up by us, her parents and she has to report to us when she is a friend's that we know.

      July 4, 2010 at 1:33 am |
  17. Wendy McKee

    Great, more of MY money going to suport other people! Do you know how I support my kid? Do you know how I pay my tuition? I do that by going to WORK six days a week.

    July 4, 2010 at 1:02 am |
  18. Lynn

    Now I'm mad at my dad. I'm 42 and my Dad taught me good values and that you have to work hard to get what you want. But he lied. I should have gotten pregnant and I would have all my expenses paid. Instead I work hard to make looser's lifes easier. I'm ready to throw in the towel and collect the freebies.

    July 4, 2010 at 12:45 am |
    • fedupwithfundinglaziness

      my parents lied, too, lynn. i'm still working on my bachelor's degree because i can't get a promotion or more money without it. HA! i may have just found the answer to my problem! why the h@1l work so hard a full-time job and part-time education? i just need to divorce my husband (on paper anyway), get me some kids and be set for life!!!!!

      July 4, 2010 at 12:54 am |
    • Nancy

      No, no don't throw in the towel. I know it's tough to do things the right way. Use your power as a United States citizen to vote out representatives (local, state, federal) that pander to people looking for handouts.

      July 4, 2010 at 1:15 am |
    • HeIsGod

      LOL, that was funny! But so true!!

      July 4, 2010 at 1:20 am |
  19. angie

    They are getting pregnant at your expence, then turn around and put baby up for private adoption. Friends daughter made 10 grand. My friend also works at a hospitol in records (birth) even though daddy is present , he doe's not have to put his name on birth certificate.

    July 4, 2010 at 12:37 am |
    • fedupwithfundinglaziness

      so true, angie! happens in my south texas town a LOT!!! dad is living with mom, but since they're not married and dad's name isn't on the birth certificate, they get a ton of aid! they both work, but get housing assistance, utilities paid for, food stamps all on my tax dollar. mom's got a new hair color just about every month, a new set of nails every two weeks, and the newest cell 4G cell phone. meanwhile, i play by the rules and struggle to keep a roof over my head and my lights on. sees like a new option is avialable.

      July 4, 2010 at 12:46 am |
  20. Evelyn

    This is just another way to encourage teenage pregnancy and pregnancy of women that want welfare. I'm tired of my tax dollars going to support them. They already have free healthcare and Medicaide, food stamps, etc. We don't need to give more money to encourage it. We need to cut the funds to discourage it. Don't tell me in this day and time they need sex education. I don't believe there is a person on this earth that doesn't know about what causes, and how to prevent pregnancy.

    July 4, 2010 at 12:22 am |
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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.