State launches new Women’s Service Program to promote women’s health

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

(WHTM) — Pennsylvania’s Department of Human Services has created a Women’s Service Program, providing funding to groups that provide women’s health care, especially to pregnant women or new mothers.

This program replaces the state’s previous contract with Real Alternatives, a pro-life nonprofit that runs several crisis pregnancy centers and other facilities. Governor Josh Shapiro let that contract expire at the end of 2023.

“I think it was a long overdue move,” Sen. Judy Schwank (D-Berks County) said.

Schwank is one of the co-chairs of the Women’s Health Caucus.

“By going to this new system, and with new providers, we can offer more comprehensive services to women and babies,” she said.

She said the new program is a step forward in improving women’s health, particularly maternal health.

Pennsylvania bill would allow returning mail-in ballots to polling places

“We’re able to meet women wherever they are in terms of what their needs are in health care, and caring for their family,” she said.

The $8 million program takes money that used to go to pro-life nonprofit Real Alternatives and gives it to four regional organizations.

“We have areas in the state where we know there are maternal care deserts,” Schwank said.

These groups will provide everything from prenatal and postpartum care to STI testing and other referrals.

“It’s an important time in a woman’s life, to be pregnant and to have resources that you can count on,” said Rep. Mary Jo Daley (D-Montgomery County).

Rep. Daley is another co-chair of the Women’s Health Caucus. She hopes this program will be more transparent about how the money is used, something she felt was missing with Real Alternatives.

“Taxpayers deserve the right and have the right to understand how their money is being spent,” she said.

Thanks for signing up!

Watch for us in your inbox.

Subscribe Now

WHTM Morning Weather

The groups receiving funding do not provide abortions, but Daley and Schwank said they hope the groups can help women access them, something they say should be an option.

“As women, we should be looking out for other women and kind of being supportive of them,” Daley said.

Schwank added, “We are here to provide you with fact-based information to assist you, whatever choices you decide to make.”

In August 2023, when Governor Shapiro announced the end of the state’s contract with Real Alternatives, many Republican lawmakers criticized the decision, including Sen. Kristin Phillips-Hill (R-York), who shared her concerns with abc27 then. abc27 reached out to her for her thoughts on this new program but did not hear back.

For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to ABC27.