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The Minnesota health department has distributed grants totaling $4.7 million over the next three years to pregnancy centers and other agencies that help pregnant women find abortion alternatives.

The grants will hopefully help offset the increase of abortions due to new Planned Parenthood centers.

The grants are part of the Positive Alternatives program that Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life successfully got the state legislature to approve.

The legislature ultimately approved the program in 2005 with overwhelming bipartisan support.

Positive Alternatives grants are available to organizations that provide life-affirming care to pregnant women in need who want to bring their children to term.

They help women with services ranging from medical attention, nutrition support and housing assistance to adoption services, educational and employment assistance, and parenting education.

Scott Fischbach, the executive director of MCCL, told that the organizations empowered by the grants will, in turn, empower women with help and options apart from abortion.

“Positive Alternatives delivers a wide range of support to women when they are most vulnerable and needy,” he said.

“These grants ensure that pregnant mothers will continue to receive helpful services and won’t feel abortion is their only option,” Fischbach added.

A total of 31 grantees were selected across Minnesota to receive the funding for the 2008-2010 biennium.

MCCL defeated an effort from pro-abortion legislators in the last session to gut funding for the program.

Reps. Ken Tschumper, Shelley Madore and Will Morgan, all Democrats, tried to cut the funding. In the end, MCCL was successful in having the Positive Alternatives program cut no more than the 1.8 percent the Minnesota health department had cut from its overall budget.

Fischbach told he looks forward to the new report from the health department expected on July 1. It will cover the number of abortions done in 2007, the first full year the Positive Alternatives program began helping women.

“We know that the grants are helping more women choose life for their unborn children, and we hope that they are enough to reduce the overall number of abortions,” Fischbach said. “But abortions jumped five percent in 2006 — a troubling increase after four years of steady decline.”

Related: Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life –

[20June08, Ertelt,, St. Paul, MN]