Letter: Anti-abortion funding up, anti-poverty funding down in North Dakota budget
When economic times are hard, women and families are the first to take smaller servings at the state-funded dinner table. Budget shortfalls mean less for those who often need it most through human service programs.
In cutting and slashing important programs and institutions such as higher education, human trafficking prevention, childcare facilities and grants to aid the homeless, the North Dakota Legislature shows that its priorities are skewed.
But anti-abortion groups in North Dakota look to secure $600,000 in taxpayer dollars—an increase in funding over the past legislative session—through the so-called "Alternatives to Abortion" program. The dollars will be redirected from the Temporary Aid for Needy Families funding; that's a federal program designed to help families facing economic challenges to achieve self-sufficiency.
"Alternatives to Abortion" programs are a code for organizations that withhold information from women when they are often emotionally vulnerable. If the Legislature was serious about supporting women and families, the lawmakers could perform that task by strengthening the institutions that have a strong track record of providing care to those in need.
Instead of increasing funding to programs that harm women, the lawmakers should use the funds as intended: to help low-income families gain employment and meet their basic needs.
Funding the Alternatives to Abortion program from funds intended for low-income families is just another example of the Legislature politicizing women's health. Anti-abortion groups and the legislators who have pushed their agenda have squandered hundreds of thousands of dollars in unsuccessful court battles and on the ballot.
North Dakotans are smarter than this and will not be fooled so easily.