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. exzonie

    Republicans love you until your out the womb, then you a burden on taxpayers!!!!

    July 5, 2010 at 2:15 pm |
  2. Janet

    The bottom line is that the right wingers are pushing their anti-choice stance based on their religious beliefs. A woman's right to choose should not now and should never have been allowed to become a religious battle. Whether or not a women gets an abortion should be HER choice and should not be controlled by religious doctrine disguised as legal limitations. It is no one else's business but the woman in question. It doesn't matter what your religious beliefs are. It doesn't matter when you personally believe life begins. You have NO right to force your religious beliefs on another, and preventing abortions in any way is exactly that.

    July 5, 2010 at 12:52 pm |
    • Reality

      Thou shalt not kill pertains to all human life from beginning to end.

      July 5, 2010 at 2:01 pm |
    • ybs

      Get with it reality! It's now proven that we can clone "relatively" perfectly healthy dogs. In other words, skin cells could be used to clone another human being in the not too distance future. Do we have to protect every cell? Get a clue, reality!

      July 5, 2010 at 3:20 pm |
    • Reality

      Joining a human male sperm cell and female egg creates human life. Such fetal life is no different than that of growing child who replicates cells as he or she grows to maturity. Cloning such life processes does not change the situation.
      "Thou shalt not kill human life"!!!

      July 5, 2010 at 10:32 pm |
    • smcgov

      what right do you have to violate the rights of another human because of your radical "pro-choice" beliefs? All life emanates from life...when the 2 cells are united, it IS absolutely the beginning of that life, and the being is HUMAN. It's not a giraffe, it's not "just a fetus", it's HUMAN. Aborted births that intentionally result in the deaths of humans should absolutely be illegal. You are putting an end to a life...and please spare us all once and for all with this ridiculous rhetoric that it's the mother's choice because it's her body? The human within the mother is NOT the mother's body, it is an entity that is ATTACHED to her body, depending on her for support for it's life. An abortion basically is withdrawing support for a life, which I could understand if it was suffering or if the mother's health was in danger, I certainly don't think a woman should have to die or make the choice between her life and her child's...but let's be honest here, statistically this situation is rare. I've heard some physicians say they've never once encountered a situation where an abortion was needed to save the mother's life. Its' a BS loophole that's created that helps the mother lie to herself about what she's really done. The pro-choice movement is full of man hating feminists that most likely had issues with their fathers and feel like the pro-life movement is somehow a bunch of bible thumpers trying to control their bodies, which is utter BS. Religion should not even enter the equation, because it's really just common sense, the problem being that life has been devalued in our country, watch network TV one night and keep a count of how many people are murdered in one night. These same feminists would raise hell if you opened a dog up and vaccuumed the puppy out of it. The facts here are that by the time most women know that they're pregnant, the baby already looks like a baby, and already has brainwaves. IMO you have to be a pretty stupid person to have unprotected s*x if you're not ready to have a baby.

      July 6, 2010 at 12:17 am |
    • Random Pagan

      smcgov, you're mistaken about how developed most fetus' are at the time of the majority of induced abortions. 70% of abortions occur before it even reaches the fetal stage of development- it is still embryonic, and does not even remotely resemble a human. Fetal development begins at week nine. Not that this will change your thoughts, of course; just wanting to be accurate in pointing out that a human embryo looks a far cry from anything human.

      Plus, neurologically it has not developed enough to even begin to have brain functioning, as it is still in the process of physically forming the brain itself. Brain function is much later (past the midway point) in pregnancy.

      July 6, 2010 at 4:26 pm |
    • Just a thought

      Religion enters into it because those who are against a woman's right to choose very frequently claim that God is on their side exclusively. These also tend to be the same people who whole-heartedly endorse military solutions to most of the world's woes.

      While I am in complete support of our military, I would like to remind those who continually cite "Thou shalt not kill", that that is what does happen in war- people are killed. Are all those vets from wars fought for our safety bound for hell? They killed humans, many of whom were no more guilty of sin that he who killed....soooo, where is the line? Or do we all just draw the line wherever it is convenient for ourselves?

      July 6, 2010 at 7:11 pm |
  3. Michael Wong

    Tea Partiers remind me of a recently divorced man who's angry because he thinks his spouse walked away with all his money and the system is unfairly tilted against him. In fact, every study of divorce economics has shown that BOTH parties lose money and it's the lawyers who are walking away with it all because the two sides aren't working together.

    Similarly, Tea Partiers blame "liberals" for somehow running the country's finances into the ground, but the fiscal situation is really a toxic brew of everyone's making. Conservatives love tax cuts, big military spending, and massive incarceration of criminals, all of which drain government coffers rapidly. Liberals like health care, education, environmental protection, and social security, all of which also drain government coffers rapidly.

    July 5, 2010 at 12:48 pm |
  4. cmjt

    What ever happened to the campaigning Obama that spoke of PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY?

    This is just more money rewarding irresponsible behavior. A bailout for those that lack the common sense to practice birth control or abstain.
    When sperm and egg donors start to see and feel the real consequences of their behavior then we will start to have real planned parenthood.

    July 5, 2010 at 12:13 pm |
  5. teacherpage

    Please stop the nonsense- the same people who are arguing that a fetus is not a baby until birth (whatever-rolled eyes) support the policies of President Obama that include a legislative record of withholding medical care to a baby (by the loonie lefts definition it became a baby the minute it was born) that was born alive during a botched abortion. Please be consistent-if an abortion is acceptable because a fetus has no rights what do you call withholding medical attention? By the way I am a female R.N. who has seen late term abortions- it is nothing more than state sanctioned murder and this country should hang its head in shame. The loud left will rile against the death penalty (as do I) and find this type of butchery acceptable. Common ground cannot be found until the liberal wing of the Democratic party admits that at some point a "fetus" is more than a blob of cells that matters not. Democrats will not budge on the issue because it speaks to their crazy base who live in fear of a mean ole Republicans taking away their right to an abortion. Republicans will not budge because it speaks to their crazy base. When will American voters see that they are being manipulated by their parties- I believe the reality is simple. Most Americans abhor abortions and admit that in very limited cases they are a necessary evil.. Please vote in November for people who are willing to tone down the rhetoric and legislate for the good of all Americans- not just their weird bases.

    July 5, 2010 at 11:36 am |
  6. mandate

    I have no idea how this relates to abortion. They should use this money for sex education/birth control with the goal of reducing teenage pregnancy, rather than condone teenage motherhood by making it easier. They have it COMPLETELY backwards!

    July 5, 2010 at 10:32 am |
  7. CatholicMom

    Nonesuch …..you wrote…...’ Fetuses are not persons under the law.’

    but listen…...man’s law is not above God’s law.

    July 5, 2010 at 9:46 am |
    • mandate

      As a matter of fact, unless you live under sharia law or maybe in the Vatican or another theocracy, man's law is above God's law. Besides, your God's law only applies to YOU

      July 5, 2010 at 10:38 am |
    • CatholicMom

      ultimately you will know that God's law applied to you, too; you heard the Truth but did not heed it.

      July 5, 2010 at 10:50 am |
    • ybs

      CatholicMom, god's law is irrelevant and only applies to you and religious sheep!

      July 5, 2010 at 12:55 pm |
  8. rgray222

    This President is not that bright, he is simply not a leader. He has let the people down on so many levels it really makes your head spin. This story states that the President has a "vision" the problem is that his vision is less then honest and simply not very intelligent!
    1. All bills posted on the internet for at least 72 hours......broken promise
    2. No bill signed into law for at least 5 dys.............broken promise
    3. I will never sign a bill with earmarks.................broken promise
    4. I will not hire lobbyiist in the white house........broken promise, more lobbyist in this white house then any at anytime!
    5 .I will hold health care debates on CSPAN.........nine time promised, never happened once!
    6. I will close gitmo on day one...................broken promise,
    7. I will get us out of the war in Iraq.....broken promise
    8. This president has spent, borrowed and printed money like no other in our history.
    This president has not been honest about any issues, why should anyone follow him on the abortion issue!

    July 5, 2010 at 9:42 am |
  9. Lil Bit

    Our country will continue to debate over this matter for years to come because there isn't a quick fix solution and people are not willing to take responsibility for their actions. I am a 22 year old female college student, let me tell you what I see growing up in this madness. There are so many factors that contribute to this crisis. For one parents do need to educate their kids but more importantly they need to spend time with their children. We have become workaholics. Where are your kids when your at work late? They are out at the malls getting in trouble and at the boyfriends house with their legs wide open. Schools do their part in educating about sex, and contraceptives. They could work on tactics to keep students at school and in class. Yes students have sex in schools and skip classes to leave school grounds to have sex!
    For the most part, teenagers and young adolescents know what to do to not get pregnant and they know where to go to get contraceptives. They just don't! Here at my university everyone knows you can go to health services and get free condoms with your student ID and you can get birth control and the morning after pill cheaper than a local clinic. Which is great for broke college students. So why is it more than half of my friends (girls and guys) have had a child or an abortion?
    I don't know if anyone has noticed, but our society has begun to accept teen pregnancies. They publicize it!! 16 and Pregnant. It's a reality television show of teenage mothers. Its kind of hard to tell your teenage daughter to use protection and not get pregnant when their are pregnant teens with a tv show. Video games & music artists promote sex too.
    I'm a firm believer in taking responsibility for your actions but I also don't believe in kicking a person when their down. Young women make a mistake, get pregnant and have a baby. Yes they need to work to support their child. I don't think that means they can't get help if they truly need it and do their part. The programs would be great if they actually worked! The young mothers like ones I know who actually try to fend for themselves but its not enough can't get help. But the ones who are irresponsible, 19 with 2 kids and no job or looking for one get the help. The requirements are too low. Everyone knows it so they abuse it and they will continue to do so as long as it isn't changed.
    Personally I don't believe in abortions. I don't judge or try to tell others what to do with their lives either. However, I don't think it's fair that the consequences of an abortion are not represented as strongly as those of keeping a child. In any decision the pros and cons of either decision a person makes should be clearly identified. Some women are pushed into a corner to get an abortion by those close to them. That's not right. They aren't the ones that have to live with the decision.

    July 5, 2010 at 9:11 am |
  10. Reality

    More information Mr. Obama faiiled to note in his review of health issues in the USA

    The abortion rate continues at over one million/yr. Add to that the19 million S-D cases/yr and it obvious the USA has a significant problem in the area of self-control.

    July 5, 2010 at 8:31 am |
  11. CatholicMom

    Pasadena47, you said,

    'Here is another issue where democrats should lead the way. If you are a democrat I agree that you should be allowed to have an abortion. Sounds good to me.'

    How long before the Democrats eliminate themselves by this method? Perhaps we won't have to vote them out of office-they will take care of it themselves.

    July 4, 2010 at 11:00 pm |
    • jean2009

      According to statistics just as many Catholic -republican women obtain abortions as other women. Which only proves self-control has nothing to do with the issue.

      July 5, 2010 at 8:53 am |
    • ybs

      jean2009, not only "self-control has nothing to do with the issue" but moral religious chest thumpers are hypocrites! CathlolicMom is one of the many. Although, she has good intention, her inability to see that the Catholic/GOP abort just as much is what makes her a hypocrite!

      July 5, 2010 at 11:42 am |
  12. nonesuch

    WHat, too busy celebrating Independence Day? Why would you celebrate that if the only people who really have "independence" are males?

    After all, don't they get off scot-free if they impregnate a woman and decide to skip town? How does a woman get off so easily?

    Do you really think there's equality here?

    July 4, 2010 at 8:13 pm |
  13. nonesuch

    There is no "compromise" on abortion. Either a woman has rights over her body or she doesn't. If she does, then abortion remains legal and safe, and is no one else's concern.

    If she doesn't, then women become nothing more than vessels for fetuses and are subservient to their needs and "rights".

    July 4, 2010 at 7:51 pm |
    • josephine

      oh- excellent. the baby's not the point at all, it's the fact that it's unfair that a guy can walk away- so kill the baby. so glad you'd be so transparent. i agree with you- it is unfair, and the guy should be lawfully required to take care of his kid, the way the mom needs to. no doubt about that. but punishing a kid to make a statement seems like misplaced overkill.

      July 5, 2010 at 10:49 pm |
  14. nonesuch

    Time's a-watin' sweeties. Come on, there must be a simple, concise and easy answer to my question, surely? After all, people like you think everything is black and white, right and wrong, pure and simple, right? And since this is SUCH an important subject to the likes of you, you are surely hanging on this thread, waiting to pounce on every post and response, aren't you? After all, the lives of all those "precious unborn children" hang in the balance, awaiting your wisdom, right?

    Come on. I'm waiting.

    July 4, 2010 at 7:44 pm |
    • josephine

      lol- wow, so impatient, just the kind of person who would off a kid, rather than put up with their constant demands. im not at all claiming to be a super intelliect- is that what this is about? this isnt philosophical! i guess it can be if you want it to. is it right to kill a human because you find their presence taxing? no. do you have "rights" to off a human when they demand so much attention? if they don't have a voice to resist being killed, then apparently.

      July 5, 2010 at 10:45 pm |
    • nonesuch

      @josephine the nincompoop: Good to know you and your little azzkisser couldn't begin to answer the question. Proves my point. You've got nothing.

      July 12, 2010 at 12:51 pm |
  15. nonesuch

    What's taking you so long? After all, it's such a clear-cut issue, isn't it, at least according to you? Surely such brilliant intellects like josephine and con can respond with a simple, neat solution, n'est pas?

    Or are you at a loss for words?

    July 4, 2010 at 7:35 pm |
  16. nonesuch

    Come on, josephine and con. What is the solution to such a dilemma, if a fetus has rights?

    I've posed such a question numerous times on many different fora. Not one anti-choice zealot has been able to address it. Are you up to the challenge? Go ahead. I can't wait to see your responses.

    July 4, 2010 at 7:17 pm |
  17. nonesuch

    The fact is that a woman has the final say concerning her own body. If she decides that she no longer wishes to be pregnant, nothing anyone says will make any difference and no law will prevent her from aborting the fetus if she so chooses. Those who whine about the "rights of the unborn" are nincompoops who have yet to figure out that the fetus cannot have rights without the woman, a citizen of this country and equal to all other citizens, is denied some of hers. If you think that's going to happen, you're delusional.

    July 4, 2010 at 6:54 pm |
  18. Reality

    What Mr. Obama should emphasize but never does, (from the second stanza of Americal the Beautiful), "Confirm thy Soul In Self-Control".

    July 4, 2010 at 3:46 pm |
    • nonesuch

      Self-control? So anyone who chooses to end a pregnancy for her own reasons is guilty of a lack of self-control? Says who? You have no idea why some women choose to terminate a pregnancy, nor should you. It's a personal, private decision that is absolutely no one's business except the woman who is pregnant. If you aren't her, you have no say in the matter.

      July 4, 2010 at 5:39 pm |
    • consrvuhtive

      The self control isn't exerted after she is pregnant.... and it shouldn't just be exerted by her (she can't get that way alone).

      July 4, 2010 at 6:28 pm |
    • nonesuch

      "It shouldn't be exerted just by her"? Once she's pregnant, it's her decision, regardless of the male involved. Of COURSE, she didn't "get that way alone". But she's the only one who'll have to bear the risks to her health in pregnancy and childbirth, and therefore, once she is pregnant, regardless of the "self-control" exerted or the lack thereof, her say is final.

      July 4, 2010 at 6:41 pm |
  19. Reality

    A better reminder for all of us from the second stanza of America the Beautiful: Confirm thy Soul In Self-Control !!!!

    July 4, 2010 at 3:40 pm |
  20. mivnyuas yau kab

    P.S. I forgot to mention something. I don't hate the people who have abortion. I hate the IDEA of abortion. There's a difference.

    July 4, 2010 at 2:50 pm |
    • nonesuch

      Then don't ever, ever have one. That way, you won't need to think about it at all. Because your distaste for it is irrelevant. What you don't like is unimportant unless it directly impinges on your rights or those of another person. Fetuses are not persons under the law, so someone else's decision to abort is none of your concern.

      July 4, 2010 at 6:05 pm |
    • consrvuhtive

      because the law is the ultimate determining factor in saying whether a thing is right or wrong...

      July 4, 2010 at 6:24 pm |
    • nonesuch

      Boobs who use either slavery or Hitler to make their points have already lost the argument. Slavery was outlawed because slaves were obviously people already born.

      July 4, 2010 at 6:42 pm |
    • josephine

      obviously huh? it took 80 years in the United States for it to be obvious. and the ones who were economically interested in having work done for free resisted it. so apparently it wasnt obvious to them at all. it's also not so obvious to those who would be in trouble economically for a child to be born. much easier to neutralize them.

      July 4, 2010 at 6:48 pm |
    • nonesuch

      If a fetus has rights, then how will you square that with the rights of the woman carrying it? What happens when the "rights" of the fetus conflict with those of the woman? Whose rights prevail?

      July 4, 2010 at 6:51 pm |
    • nonesuch

      Not at all, conjob. The law has never been about what's "right" or what's "wrong"; it's about whose rights are at stake.

      It's not about whether abortion is right or wrong; it's about whose rights prevail; those of the woman, an already born citizen, or those of a fetus.

      Go ahead and tell me whose rights trump whose.

      July 4, 2010 at 9:54 pm |
    • josephine

      when do the rights of the mother and the rights of the fetus conflict?

      July 5, 2010 at 10:42 pm |
    • Random Pagan

      Actually Josephine, there was an article I read in Newsweek covering how often the rights of pregnant women were indeed being rendered null and void, and at what point does a woman lose her rights because of her pregnancy.

      This article was from several months ago, and it sprung up out of three separate cases where courts intervened and essentially stripped legally same women of their rights and forced them to whatever treatment a court approved doctor would decide.

      Granted, all three were guilty of doing something that wouldn't be considered good for the health of the baby, but none of them were doing anything illegal: smoking for two of the mothers, drinking on one.

      The question is, who dictates the rights of a pregnant woman? We all know that it is unhealthy for a fetus to have an obese mother- obesity put the fetus at risk for death, among other things. Should we revoke the rights of women who are overweight and pregnant? What about driving or being inside a moving vehicle? That can be a danger to the fetus as well, should we make pregnant women who drive or are seen riding in cars wards of the state?

      There are cases where the rights have conflicted. Newsweek thought enough of it to write its article this past winter. It does open a Pandora's box of values/judgements/beliefs.

      July 6, 2010 at 4:47 pm |
    • Random Pagan

      Sorry, that was supposed to read "legally sane women".

      July 6, 2010 at 4:50 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.