The N.C. House shot down an effort to add funding to substance abuse programs by cutting budget money from “crisis pregnancy centers” that encourage alternatives to abortion.
The House budget includes $1.3 million for the Carolina Pregnancy Care Fellowship, which describes itself as “life-affirming ministries” for pregnant women. The Senate budget includes $400,000 for the group, and past state budgets have provided $300,000 to the organization.
Rep. Deb Butler, a Wilmington Democrat, proposed an amendment to reduce the pregnancy center’s funding back to the $300,000 level, and instead direct the remaining $1 million to state-run drug and alcohol abuse treatment centers.
“I can’t find much transparency or accountability from the crisis pregnancy centers,” she said. “I have not heard any identified rationale for the quadrupling of their funding. There are more urgent, critical and expensive challenges facing us in North Carolina.”
But Rep. Dean Arp, a Republican from Monroe, said the legislature is already working to improve drug treatment services, and the pregnancy centers are important in preventing pre-term births that are “rampant” in rural communities and resulting in birth defects.
Arp said the centers are “located in the poorest areas of the counties where no other clinics or help is.”
Arp called for Butler’s amendment to be tabled without further debate, and the House voted 73-43 to kill the proposal.