Missouri sees its 6th pro-life victory of 2009!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Governor Nixon Leaves Alternatives To Abortion Funding Intact Despite Difficult Budget Withholding Politics

After months of cliff hanging speculations, Gov. Jay Nixon has rejected the proposal from Margaret Donnelly, Director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, to cut the 1.9 million dollars previously authorized by the Legislature for the 2010 budget year. While Donnelly’s recommendation was seen as a purely political motive, Gov. Nixon’s objective review continues a pro-life dialog between The Executive Office and Missouri’s pro-life community. Appropriations for the successful Alternatives to Abortion program are expected to be awarded to contract providers soon.

Amid deep concerns for the stability of this life saving pro-life program following Jay Nixon’s election as Governor of Missouri, one of his early duties in January 2009 was to prepare a proposed budget to present to the State Legislature. In doing so many pro-life advocates held their breath fearing a less than sympathetic treatment from Gov. Nixon. Despite most pro-life groups’ earlier criticisms of Nixon as a pro-abortion candidate, his first budget proposal contained what Missouri Family Network has labeled as “full funding” for the program. What this means is that his proposal contained the full amount previously proposed and adopted by former Gov. Matt Blunt, who actively pushed for increased funding each of his four years in the executive post, and the Legislature. By the time the state’s budget for 2009 was adopted in 2008 the amount for the program had grown to just over 1.9 million dollars. Gov. Nixon matched that amount in his proposal to the Legislature in January and despite the many political and budgetary conflicts between the republican controlled House and Senate and Gov. Nixon who is the state’s leading democrat, the full funding survived the legislative process by May of this year and was subsequently signed into law by Nixon as part of HB 10 and the state’s 2010 budget.

Soon after the General Assembly finished their 2009 Regular Session in mid-May, Gov. Nixon sent notices to each of the department heads of the state’s various agencies. In these notices the Governor explained newly projected revenue shortfalls would prohibit full appropriations as otherwise authorized under the recently adopted budget. The Governor requested that each department head outline for him those programs and expenditures of lowest priorities that he could consider for withholding under the state’s economic woes.

This scenario triggered a response from the new Director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, Margaret Donnelly, and old political enemy of pro-life advocates during her previous tenure in the Missouri House of Representatives. In her response to the Governor she listed the entire Alternatives to Abortion program as her first and most expendable area, recommending that the Governor cut all its funding. From that day forward pro-life leaders have been appealing to Gov. Nixon to objectively consider the merits of the program and not determine budget withholdings based on political philosophies or pro-life politics.

This Alternatives to Abortion program is administered primarily through pro-life agencies. Pregnancy Resource Centers and Maternity Homes provide the direct client services to women who for a variety of reasons are at risk of aborting their unborn child. These local agencies are for the most part totally private and have been established through the benevolence and dedication of pro-life citizens and are scattered throughout the state. This program enables these community service providers to extend their services and provide life changing services to thousands of women while saving unborn lives at the same time. The partnership of these pro-life agencies and the state multiplies the success of the state’s Alternatives to Abortion program by combining ‘value added’ services to the dollars expended. By utilizing the many volunteer hours and countless trained individuals involved with these agencies, the appropriations accomplish much more in providing education, employment preparedness, parenting skills, crisis management, financial management, and a host of other essential life skills than a strict government agency could provide for the same dollars.

Missouri Family Network is very pleased that Governor Jay Nixon is continuing to set aside political philosophies and rhetoric to objectively evaluate the merits of the Alternatives to Abortion program. Healthy homes are an essential element to healthy lives, including the joys and blessings of childbirth. Even in the midst of an economic near-crisis and the deep evaluations it forces, we continue to discover the benefits of affirming life over abortion. Thank you to the many dedicated folks who make Missouri’s pro-life agencies a reality. Thank you Governor Jay Nixon for again affirmed the value of unborn life and helping women discover there really is an alternative to abortion that produces a healthier home.