Since the 1990s, the Pennsylvania-based nonprofit Real Alternatives has offered free counseling and pregnancy-related services, as well as information designed to help women understand alternatives to abortion. The organization’s history parallels that of government-financed alternatives to abortion in the state, with Pennsylvania’s 1993-1995 budget specifically marked to fund such measures.
Originally known as the Morning Star Project WIN Advisory Council, Real Alternatives received a grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare (now the Department of Human Services) in 1997 to provide its pregnancy and parenting services programs across the state. That year also saw the start of a toll-free crisis hotline that helped to reach larger numbers of women. Demand for the organization’s services rose, and it was soon working with more than 600 new clients every month.
State officials then increased the budgeted amount for the organization’s programs to more than $3 million annually for fiscal year 1997-1999. Over the course of that period, well over 15,000 women took advantage of the group’s programs.
In 2001, Pennsylvania’s governor authorized $1 million in federal funding for the organization’s services through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. Three years later, Real Alternatives earned the Pennsylvania Association of Nonprofit Organizations’ Seal of Excellence.
In 2013 and 2014, respectively, Michigan and Indiana established similar partnerships with the group, which has assisted over 300,000 women to date.