As prepared for delivery:
I am honored to speak in support of my legislation, the Supporting Pregnant and Parenting Women and Families Act. This bill would ensure that pregnancy centers cannot be excluded or restricted from receiving funding for Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, or TANF, dollars. As defined in the bill, pregnancy centers are organizations that support the life of the mother and the unborn baby, such as pregnancy resource centers, pregnancy help centers and organizations, and pregnancy medical centers.
This bill should be a no-brainer. Pregnancy centers do not just serve pregnant women, they offer a wide array of services and support for mothers, fathers, and families. Pregnancy centers provide treatment, counseling, ultrasounds, parenting and prenatal education, diapers, baby clothes, referrals for housing and transportation, and so much more. They provide support to new moms and their babies.
TANF has four purposes and there should be no doubt that state use of funds for pregnancy resource centers is allowable. The first two purposes of TANF speak to assisting needy families so that children can be cared for in their own homes and reducing dependence on government assistance. Pregnancy centers not only provide tangible material supports they also offer wrap-around services that promote strong families and marriage.
However, last fall, the Department of Health and Human Service’s Office of Family Assistance, Administration for Children and Families, proposed a rule that could restrict states from using TANF funding for pregnancy centers. The administration argues that pregnancy centers should not be eligible because the centers “only help women after they become pregnant.”
Nobody here is surprised to know that this Administration prefers facilities that provide abortions up to the point of birth over pregnancy centers that support women who are choosing life. And we know many of our Democrat colleagues would like to see government funding be steered toward such facilities. But to blatantly block funding for centers that provide support for women and children illustrates Democrats’ anti-women, pro-abortion agenda.
Women who face an unexpected pregnancy should be able to safely go into a facility that is not going to push abortion on them and instead provide them with the education and resources they need to understand their options and the supports available to them. Such facilities should not be at risk of losing TANF funding.
I agree that statutory reforms are needed to ensure TANF dollars are focused on the intended goals of TANF. However, singling out pregnancy centers is putting a political agenda ahead of thoughtful policy proposals that preserve state flexibility, while at the same time balancing the need for accountability.
Make no mistake, conservatives are here for unborn babies, children, and their mothers, and we want to ensure those moms are supported throughout their pregnancy and empowered to raise their families. This bill provides women with that opportunity.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I yield back.
You can watch the Congresswoman's full remarks here.